The difference between a liberal and a leftist

Democrats are fond of arguing that we should withdraw from Iraq so we can fight more effectively on the “real” battlefields in the war on terror in Afghanistan and perhaps Pakistan. But at the Contentions blog, Max Boot maintains that defeat in Iraq will make it more difficult to fight in Afghanistan and to counter terrorists in Pakistan. Boot points to a report in the Washington Post that Pakistan’s dictator Musharraf has complained that his leverage over tribal militants has slipped because their leaders are less fearful of the U.S. given our difficulties in Iraq. Boot suggets that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would accentuate this trend.
The point is a rather obvious one — failure to succeed at war reduces a nation’s ability to exert influence and emboldens a nation’s enemies and potential enemies. This may not be a rationale for continuing to fight a lost cause. However, recent developments in Iraq strongly suggest that the cause there is not lost.
If the Democrats push for defeat in Iraq under these circumstances, it would be difficult not to conclude that either (a) they would like to see the U.S. unable to exert influence in the world or (b) they have no understanding of how the world works. Option (a) provides a good working definition of an American leftist; option (b) of an American liberal.

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