Tuesday, April 20, 2004

BITTER ENDERS. A surprisingly moody post by Tacitus (go here and scroll down to "Reprint," April 18), with this money graf:
Retroactive nonsupport does not imply present-day loss of nerve; similarly, just because cause X produced effect Y, it does not follow that cause Y will always result. The Iraqi debacle does not discredit the reverse-domino notion; it does not discredit the idea of societal change via military force; and it does not discredit the notion of unilateral American action. It only discredits the idea of doing these things badly. Keep that in mind.
There seems to be more of this sort of thing coming from war supporters nowadays (from responsible war supporters, I mean -- the idiot kind do not acknowledge any difficulties whatever). Unfortunately, what their admissions boil down to is this: "Just because we were wrong doesn't mean we were wrong."

In a strange way, the 9/11 Commission, however blackly it is painted by its critics, has given those Bushites with chilling feet an opportunity to question the execution, rather than the idea, of the invasion and occupation. With so many kinks in the system, one can after all say: there, that's what went wrong -- a hamungadunga in the whatchamacallit; thus were all our sound plans waylaid!

This musters in such folks the old-fashioned American never-say-die spirit. Back to the drawing board. This time for sure. Declare Chapter 11 (or June 30) and move on.

Likewise the absurd level of optimism in which they engaged last year also provides them with an out. They were only wrong, they can insist, to think it would be easy; and the fact that it is hard merely makes it more of a challenge from which, being American, we will not shrink.

In fact, these difficulties they have only recently begun to acknowledge have also given them an excuse to cast off the laurels, and responsibilities, of the liberator. Already silver linings are being envisioned in Fallujah that could not have been mentioned back when we were first decided that, in the absence of WMDs, we had done it all for the Iraqi children. Now Andrew Sullivan rejoices: We killed ten of them to every one of ours! And soon our enemies will be brought to heel -- for their own good, but mostly for ours.

To some extent I welcome this shift. I have long said that I care much less about the people of Iraq -- even the photogenic children -- than I do about the people of the United States. Back when we were liberators, this made me seem cruel. Now I'm on my way back in the mainstream, which is a relief.

My remaining worries hinge on the next stage of the all-embracing yet undefined War on Terror. If these guys really think we did great except for the execution, I'm afraid they're likely to say, on to Syria -- and this time we do it right!

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