Joshua Muravchik in the Los Angeles Times, on why he will vote for President Bush in November:
Sept. 11 was a watershed, but it was new only in scope, not in kind. For three decades, Middle Eastern terrorists had assassinated our diplomats, brought down our airliners, blown up our servicemen in their bunks and berths. They even bombed the World Trade Center. Yet as long as they were killing us in small batches, we responded with passivity, fearing to stir up more trouble.
On 9/11, however, the terrorists managed to kill us by thousands at a swoop, and what Bush understood was that our policy of passivity, like the West’s efforts to appease Hitler in the 1930s, had only invited more audacious attacks. He saw that we had no choice but to go to war against the terrorists and their backers.
He saw too that this war would be, as President Kennedy described the Cold War, a “long, twilight struggle” waged on many fronts and by many means. This meant that we would fight and some of us would die on his watch, but that victory could not possibly be achieved within so short a time as to enable him to claim credit.
Has our occupation of Iraq gone smoothly? Far from it. Have mistakes been made? No doubt….Probably we should have sent more soldiers, not disbanded the Iraqi army, planned earlier elections and not adopted an artificial deadline for transferring sovereignty.
Perhaps even the decision to take on Iraq after Afghanistan was a strategic mistake in the larger war. It might have been better to have concentrated on overthrowing Iran’s mullahs or forcing Syria out of Lebanon. In World War II, Allied leaders and commanders debated fiercely which fronts to concentrate on and in what order.
But the real issue is not about tactics or even the larger strategy but whether to fight at all. The alternative is to soothe ourselves with half measures