The question mark is mine, not Bill Kristol’s. Kristol is more optimistic than I am, but he is certainly right about the direction of the tide in Iraq, and, I hope, in the U.S.:
For the Iraq war’s opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military analysts–Democrats, no less!–reporting that the situation on the ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable. It began with a plan for a series of votes in Congress that were supposed to stampede nervous Republicans against the continued prosecution of the war. It ended with the GOP spine stiffened, no antiwar legislation passed, and the Democratic Congress adjourning in disarray, with approval ratings lower than President Bush’s. It began with Democratic presidential candidates competing in their antiwar pandering. It ended with them having second thoughts–with Barack Obama, losing ground to Hillary Clinton because he seemed naive about real world threats, frantically suggesting that he would invade Pakistan.
July also began with the liberal media disparaging the troops. It ended with the liberal media in retreat. ***
So here is where we are: In terms of U.S. national interests–and in terms of its own political well-being–the Republican party faces a moment when, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, honor points the path of duty, and the right judgment of the facts reinforces the dictates of honor. General Petraeus will deliver the facts in September. If Republicans can keep their nerve under media and elite assault, then they will have the honor of following the path of both duty and the right judgment of the facts. I suspect all will come out well. Americans can sometimes be impatient and short-sighted. But when a choice is clearly presented, they tend to reject the path of defeat and dishonor.
That’s true. Which may explain why the Democrats, who expected to be triumphantly enjoying their new majorities by now, are instead feeling as jittery as the Republicans, if not more so.
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