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Mission Accomplished

A quick survey of the net suggests that many of us had the same thought as John Payne tonight: now can we bring the troops home? Making Osama bin Laden the face of the “War on Terror” may have been a mistake, doing more for his legacy than for our security, but it sure could […]

A quick survey of the net suggests that many of us had the same thought as John Payne tonight: now can we bring the troops home?

Making Osama bin Laden the face of the “War on Terror” may have been a mistake, doing more for his legacy than for our security, but it sure could come in handy now, leadership willing. Let’s declare VT Day. Release the ticker tape. Just don’t try this in Times Square; you’re likely to be arrested.  Bloomberg is still very much with us.

This is the perfect moment for the president to declare victory in the Global War on Terror (I’m ready to play along) and announce our expedited withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. Qaeda’s lack of anyone of comparable stature to replace bin Laden provides us with the opportunity to make of his death a symbolic finale (the leadership void also reveals al Qaeda’s weakness).

But time is of the essense. Acting now, before the “Arab Spring” heats up with the inevitable frustrations of summer, we could take the demagogic wind out of the electoral sails of the region’s Islamists. On the other hand, if America is seen as unrelenting following bin Laden’s death–heading into the uncertainty of post-“Spring” Arabia–bin Laden becomes the mother of all martyrs and the “Crusader West” mythos is fortified.

Change is hard, Mr. President. It’s time, finally, to face down the Pentagon and the Three Stooges (here they are, I think in one of their little-known “road” movies) and bring the troops home.

Update: Note also where bin Laden was found, amidst the same Pakistani military elite that has been spending billions of dollars in US aid for cooperation in, among other things, the hunt for bin Laden! Steve Sailer was quick to point out the scam. The Christian Science Monitor here frets that our assault on bin Laden’s fortress in the bosom of Pakistan’s military may have unduly offended. God bless them.

But it also tells us that bin Laden was not cowering beneath the drones in the Pakistani hinterlands, all-but incommunicado (as Pakistan’s military, apparently, represented to us). He has had the opportunity to support terrorist activity, for years. This suggests both that bin Laden was not nearly as effective as he was symbolic and that al Qaeda, here a decade and two US occupations of Muslim lands after 9/11, still struggles to attract talent and maintain organization, despite the broad discontent that is toppling leaders who’ve kept the Islamists down for decades. And now the global jihad has local political competition for the discontented. The terrorist threat is real, it just isn’t great.

Where’s a purely ceremonial gesture when you need one?



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Mission Accomplished?

May 1 will mark five years since George W. Bush stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and triumphantly pronounced the “end of major combat operations.” Since then, we have incurred 97 percent of the war’s casualties and have spent an additional $473 billion, but Iraq still isn’t the beacon of freedom we […]

May 1 will mark five years since George W. Bush stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and triumphantly pronounced the “end of major combat operations.” Since then, we have incurred 97 percent of the war’s casualties and have spent an additional $473 billion, but Iraq still isn’t the beacon of freedom we were promised. For an explanation, we turn to the war’s most enthusiastic supporters:


“Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse after the first whiff of gunpowder.”
— Richard Perle, chairman, Defense Policy Board, 7/11/02

“After liberation the streets of Basra and Baghdad are sure to erupt in joy.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/26/02

“Desert Storm II will be a walk in the park.”
—Kenneth Adelman, member, Defense Policy Board, 8/29/02

“If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support.”
—Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, 9/02

“We shall be greeted, I think, in Baghdad and Basra with kites and boom boxes.”
—Fouad Ajami, professor of Middle East studies, Johns Hopkins, 10/7/02

“You’re going to find, and this is very important, you’re going to find Iraqis out cheering American troops.”
— Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 2/23/03


“There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors—confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/26/02

“We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. … [W]e don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
—National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 9/8/02

“[Saddam’s] regime has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons, including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas.
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

“We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
—Former Vice President Al Gore, 9/23/02

“It is clear … that left unchecked Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
—Sen. Hillary Clinton, 10/10/02

“Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There’s no question about that.”
—Representative Nancy Pelosi, 11/17/02

“Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents. … [Saddam] remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons. … these are not assertions. These are facts, corroborated by many sources…”
—Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2/5/03

“We know [Saddam has] been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, 3/16/03

“We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 3/30/03


“I think Iraq is, actually, the big unspoken elephant in the room today. There’s a fair amount of evidence that Iraq had very close associations with Osama bin Laden in the past.”
—William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, the day after 9/11

“We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bombmaking and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after Sept. 11 Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated…”
—President George W. Bush, 10/7/02

“The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself.”
—President George W. Bush, 1/29/03

“What I want to bring your attention to today is the … sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations with modern methods of murder.”
—Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2/5/03

“Secretary Powell … presented not opinions, not conjecture, but facts demonstrating Iraq’s … ties to terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda-affiliated cells operating in Baghdad.”
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 2/8/03

“There are al-Qaeda terrorists who operate in and out of Iraq …The support of al-Qaeda is clear-cut.”
—Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 3/5/03

“You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the War on Terror.”
—President George W. Bush, 9/6/02


“Now it isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either.”
—Richard Perle, 7/ 11/02

“It is unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars and highly unlikely that we would even have to contribute tens of billions of dollars.”
—Kenneth Pollack, former director for Persian Gulf Affairs, U.S. National Security Council, 9/02

“I don’t believe anything like a long-term commitment of 150,000 Americans will be necessary.”
—Richard Perle, 10/3/02

“Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/15/02

“I think it will go relatively quickly … weeks rather than months.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, 3/16/03

“This conflict is still going to be relatively short.”
—Sen. John McCain, 3/23/03

“Iraq will not require sustained aid.”
—Mitchell Daniels, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, 4/21/03


“Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics’ complaints.”
—Tony Snow, host of “Fox News Sunday,” 4/13/03

“The only people who think this wasn’t a victory are Upper West Side liberals and a few people here in Washington.”
—Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post columnist, 4/19/03

“I think the ethnic differences in Iraq are there but they’re exaggerated.”
—Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz, 3/5/03

“There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all.”
—William Kristol, 4/1/03

“[A] year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they’re liberated.”
—Richard Perle, 9/22/03

“The terrorists in Iraq failed to incite an Iraqi civil war.”
—President George W. Bush, 6/28/05


“I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.”
—Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz, 7/22/03

“I keep reading stories about it’s a country in chaos. This is simply not true. It is not a country in chaos, and Baghdad’s not a city in chaos.”
—L. Paul Bremer, administrator, Coalition Provisional Authority, 8/27/03

“There is obviously violence. … But you’re talking about specific, isolated acts just like you would get in an American city.”
—Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, 9/28/03

“It is a last ditch—I think it is a desperate effort by these terrorists.”
—Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard, 10/27/03

“[Insurgents] pose no strategic threat to the United States or to the coalition forces.”
—L. Paul Bremer, 11/17/03

“These dead-enders are few in number and have little ability to inspire a broader following among the Iraqi people”
—Michael O’Hanlon and Stephen J. Solarz, 2/17/04

“Any remaining violence is due to thugs, gangs, and terrorists.”
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 3/14/04

“Off the record: Paris is burning. On the record: Security and stability are returning to Iraq.”
—Dan Senor, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman discussing violence in Baghdad with reporters, April 2004

“I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, 6/20/05

“Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.”
—Sen. Trent Lott, 9/28/06

“[The state of war in Iraq] reminded me, as I listened to these briefings, of what I faced in New York City when we had tremendously high levels of crime.”
—Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, 1/11/07

“…like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.”
—Rep. Mike Pence, 4/1/07, after touring a Baghdad market accompanied by 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships


“I think the next few months will be critical.”
—Sen. Pat Roberts, 7/3/03

“I would argue that the next three to six months will be critical.”
—Sen. John McCain, 9/10/03

“The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time.”
—Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, 11/30/03

“The next six to seven months are critical.”
—Sen. Hillary Clinton, 12/1/03

“Iraq now faces a critical moment.”
—President George W. Bush, 5/5/04

“Our efforts are approaching a crucial moment.”
—President George W. Bush, 5/18/04

“The terrorists know that this is a very critical time.”
—Sen. John McCain, 6/23/04

“This is crunch time. Iraq will be won or lost in the next few months.”
—Thomas Friedman, 11/28/04

“This is a very critical period in Iraq.”
—Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, 6/24/05

“I think the next nine months are critical.”
—Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, 6/29/05

“I have long been invested with ensuring the development of a peaceful, democratic Iraq. We are nearing the resolution of that process, and the next months will be critical.”
—John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the UN, 8/4/05

“The next six months are going to be very critical in Iraq.”
—Sen. Chuck Hagel, 8/18/05

“I think we’re in the end game now.”
—Thomas Friedman, 9/25/05

“The developments over the next several months will be critical.”
—Gen. David Petraeus, 10/5/05

“Within 12 months, Iraq will be well on its way.”
— Zalmay Khalilzad, 10/25/05

“We’ve got, I think six months.”
—Sen. John Warner, 11/17/05

“We will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year.”
—Sen. John McCain, 12/4/05

“The last two weeks may be seen as a turning point.”
—Sen. Joseph Lieberman, 12/17/05

“The next six months are going to tell the story.”
—Sen. Joseph Biden, 12/18/05

“I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it’s going to come together.”
—Thomas Friedman, 12/18/05

“I think we’re going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding.”
—Thomas Friedman, 1/23/06

“I think we’re going to find out…in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible.”
—Thomas Friedman, 5/11/06

“The next six months will be critical.”
—Zalmay Khalilzad, 6/7/06

“By the end of the year, we will begin to draw down significant numbers of troops.”
—Sen. Joe Lieberman, 7/7/06

“It’s a critical time, yes.”
—Sen. John McCain, 8/20/06


“I didn’t advocate invasion.”
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/20/05

“Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened…”
—Richard Perle, 11/3/06

“I do not feel ‘remorseful,’ since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place.”
—Michael Ledeen, 11/4/06

“I don’t like to characterize myself as a supporter of the invasion.”
—Kenneth M. Pollack, 11/07


“The notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table.”
—President George W. Bush, 2/22/05

“We should undertake the legitimate self-defense to which we are entitled, by moving against the terrorist training camps and the improvised explosive device assembly lines and manufacturing sites inside the Islamic Republic [of Iran].
—Michael Ledeen, 3/27/07

“We have to be ready to use military force against Iran. … We can try diplomacy. I am not hopeful about that.”
—William Kristol, 7/19/06

“Why wait? … It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions—and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong American that has rejected further appeasement.”
—William Kristol, 7/24/06

“I don’t think there’s any doubt, based on the information we have, that Iran is interfering in Iraq. … So I think if President Bush as commander in chief believes that information is accurate, he is fully entitled to take defensive actions, which could include going after the Revolutionary Guards inside Iran.” —John Bolton, 8/22/07

“The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney, 10/21/07

“None of the alternatives to military action … can possibly work. We’ve got three carriers in the region and a lot of submarines. … It would take five minutes. You’d wake up one morning and the strikes would have been ordered and carried out during the night. All the president has to do is say go.”
—Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, 11/1/07


“I don’t know where [Osama bin Laden] is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him … I truly am not concerned about him.”
—President George W. Bush, 3/13/02



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