I agree with the skepticism John expressed yesterday in response to Bill Kristol’s assessment that the defeatists are in retreat when it comes to Iraq. As long as public opinion remains against the war, the defeatists will have the upper hand going forward. And the incremental progress we’re making in Iraq isn’t likely to turn public opinion in favor of the war, given the ease with which terrorists can blow things up and the reluctance of the mainstream media to look beyond “pyrotechnics.” Thus, even if the Democrats are unable to inflict defeat on the U.S. in the near future, the political price for Republicans who support the war may well be steep enough to enable the Democrats to inflict the defeat a little further down the road.
So it seems to me that the two most plausible scenarios in Iraq both involve unhappy endings. However, it is not certain that matters will end in one of these two ways, and I think Kristol is correct to this extent — the prospects for a different and positive outcome are brighter today than they were a month ago.
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