Amazingly enough, Paul Krugman is not the New York Times’s worst columnist. Not as long as Frank Rich is writing. Rich’s latest is on Iraq; it is a compendium of the usual far-left myths, distortions and outright lies on that subject. What is new, though, is that Rich is proclaiming the end of the war; his column’s title is “Someone Tell the President the War Is Over.” In Rich’s view, the United States has now lost the war, and he couldn’t be happier. His gleeful assessment ushers in what could be a new concept in commentary: defeatist triumphalism.
Rich likens President Bush to the Japanese soldiers on remote Pacific islands who didn’t get the word that World War II had ended. He predicts premature withdrawal and disaster in Iraq:
WHAT lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson’s March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we’ll then throw to the wolves. …
Thus the president’s claim on Thursday that “no decision has been made yet” about withdrawing troops from Iraq can be taken exactly as seriously as the vice president’s preceding fantasy that the insurgency is in its “last throes.” The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We’re outta there.
There is one obvious catch, however, in Rich’s rosy–for him–scenario. Much as he and his fellow left-wingers can encourage our terrorist enemy, and they do, they don’t have the power to bring about America’s defeat. Notwithstanding endless hectoring from Rich and his fellows on the fringe, there is only one man whose views about Iraq will really matter for the next three and a half years. His name is George W. Bush, and he isn’t going to cut and run. Nor can Rich and his ilk significantly impede the efforts of America’s armed forces.
In the medium and long term, what happens in Iraq is up to the Iraqis. It is certainly possible that they might forfeit what the Bush administration and America’s armed forces have given them: a chance at freedom and the opportunity to live in peace with their neighbors. But if the Iraqis fail, it won’t be because liberals stampeded the United States into abandoning them.