Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Noonan: the president needs to admit the antiwar crowd was right

Allahpundit's got it,/li> because so many people have been clamoring for opinions regarding Ms. Noonan's newest piece for Opinion Journal. From her column today:

All sides in the Iraq debate need to step up, in a new way, to the characterological plate.

From the pro-war forces, the surge supporters and those who supported the Iraq invasion from the beginning, what is needed is a new modesty of approach, a willingness to admit it hasn't quite gone according to plan. A moral humility. Not meekness--great powers aren't helped by meekness--but maturity, a shown respect for the convictions of others.

What we often see instead, lately, is the last refuge of the adolescent: defiance. An attitude of Oh yeah? We're Lincoln, you're McClellan. We care about the troops and you don't. We care about the good Iraqis who cast their lot with us. You'd just as soon they hang from the skids of the last helicopter off the embassy roof. They have been called thuggish. Is this wholly unfair?

The antiwar forces, the surge opponents, the "I was against it from the beginning" people are, some of them, indulging in grim, and mindless, triumphalism. They show a smirk of pleasure at bad news that has been brought by the other team. Some have a terrible quaking fear that something good might happen in Iraq, that the situation might be redeemed. Their great interest is that Bushism be laid low and the president humiliated. They make lists of those who supported Iraq and who must be read out of polite society. Might these attitudes be called thuggish also?

I'm hardly the sort to tackle one of conservatism's best and brightest, but it seems to me that Ms. Noonan isn't catching something here. That is there are many that were and still are in favor of action in Iraq that have admitted there were problems once Saddam was toppled. If there is a conservative out there that says there weren't any problems, they're a lying sack or an obtuse dunce. When she refers to our side as "thuggish," I'm sure she's referring to the fever-swamp on our side. (Folks, the Left has theirs, we have ours, and that's never going to change.)

I'll admit I've run into a few of the starboard side fever-swampers that get offended when we argue that there have been problems and those problems only multiplied as the administration allowed them to fester. Case in point? Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia. this guy should have been killed right from the start despite the Iraqis telling us to leave him alone. His continued presence in the theater, and the Mahdi's consistent attacks against us and the civilian population only fomented more insurgencies. We were seen as feckless in dealing with him which helped embolden the enemy over there. Say this to those on the fringe Right, and expect a spittle-laden tirade about how you're a liberal and you're not supporting the troops.

Au contraire. We do and we have from the word "go." But any general will tell you that the best laid plans in war are nice, but things rarely go as they are planned. More from Ms. Noonan:

His foes feel a tight-jawed bitterness. They believe it was his job not to put America in a position in which its security is imperiled; they resent his invitation to share responsibility for outcomes of decisions they opposed. And they resent it especially because he grants them nothing–no previous wisdom, no good intent–beyond a few stray words here and there…

Would it help if the president were graceful, humble, and asked for help? Why, yes. Would it help if he credited those who opposed him with not only good motives but actual wisdom? Yes. And if he tried it, it would make news. It would really, as his press aides say, break through the clutter.

Should the president admit that the antiwar crowd was right? Should he admit that they were right about the insurgency, the militias, the sectarian violence, the lack of WMDs located in Iraq? (Yes, Virginia, we we did find some, just not in the quantities that many expected.) Should he? Maybe he should acknowledge that they were right. In the meantime, he can also agree that a few of his former generals and the intel analysts were also right.

the problem is that the solution is already being carried out. The surge is working, and things are getting better. If given time to run it's course, this could work, and the president could begin a draw down of troops around August or September of next year. The surge troops would be pulled out no earlier than next April. By then the Iraqis should have had plenty of time to deal with the national government problems and there should be plenty of troops trained to hand over the majority of security operations to them. That would leave a small but significant amount of US and coalition forces in Iraq to supervise things, and make sure all is going well.

With the recent agreements made between al-Maliki, Sunni and Shia leaders, Sunni and Shia clerics, and the insurgencies (like the one led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri) I sincerely think we're turning a corner here. It's just a matter of time before more things start to show more success. If the Iraqis want to show they are able to move forward, the first thing the Parliament must do when they return is to address some of the political benchmarks that have been argued over, but not yet achieved solutions.

The president will ultimately make the final decision on what we do. That's his job as Commander-in-Chief. It's not the antiwar fever-swamp's job. It's not the media's job. It's not the pundit's job. Nor is it Congress's. It's his and his alone, and when it comes time for that decision, he'll make it. I think it's just a little premature (and a tad immature) to state the president has to admit the antiwar crowd was right when he can just as easily point to commanders that told him similar things when we first went into Iraq. The antiwar crowd has become unhinged in recent years and blinded by partisan hatred. While I recognize their complaints, I'd hardly give them credit.

Publius II


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