Nothing succeeds like success

This evening I had the pleasure of hearing Victor Davis Hanson speak to a group assembled by the Hoover Institution. As a speaker, Hanson comes across as even more thoughtful and insightful than he does in the articles he writes (I confess that I’ve never read one of his books). His talk on the situation in iraq was sprinkled with historical references that helped put the present situation in perspective.
However, Hanson’s two main points were pretty straightforward. First, all perceptions about this war (like any other) are informed and largely determined by success on the battlefield, or lack thereof. Second, unless General Petraeus can report success when he comes to Washington this fall, support for the war among moderate Republicans likely will disappear, and our politicians will administer the defeat that our enemies were unable to inflict.
The key questions, then, are (1) what level of success would Petraeus would have to be able to report for the war to be politically sustainable and (2) what is the likelihood that he’ll be able to report that level of success. As I suggested here, my sense is that the bar is high — quite possibly too high to clear.

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