Crunch time in Iraq (again)
After a period of quiet reflection during his August vacation, President Bush has come out swinging, with a major speech in Salt Lake City in which he warned that the fate of Western civilization hangs in the balance in Iraq right now. See Washington Post. Rush Limbaugh chortled at the President's unabashed invokation of "Almighty God,"
Tom Friedman quoted by Andrew Sullivan.
It seems like every few months that passes in Iraq there comes another decisive moment, where the good guys either have to prevail or back out. This month has been one of a long series of "turning points," and it would be foolish to put much stock in any predictions -- either optimistic or pessimistic. The truth is, we simply can't tell how much moral and physical resources the terrorists have left.
In Thursday's Washington Post, John Lehman wrote "We're Not Winning This War." First James Webb, now Lehman -- what is it with these defeatist former secretaries of the Navy who served under Reagan? To be perfectly honest, he made some convincing points. Above all, the primary objective of the war -- to retore global security by dissuading other countries from flirting with WMDs and terrorists -- does not seem to be working in Iran, Syria, or North Korea. The rogue regimes comprising the "Axis of Evil" (which is not really much of an axis) is as defiant as ever.
Another worrisome sign is that Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), a moderate who has consistently supported the war in Iraq, called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq next year. See Washington Post.
Finally, our own News Leader had a fairly balanced and sober take on the war today.
This is precisely the sort of situation where a wartime president ought to convene a special summit of leaders from both parties to reestablish a semblance of national unity in the war effort. They could be joined by retired "elder statesmen" such as former secretaries of state George Shultz, Zbigniew Brezinzski, or Henry Kissinger. (Frankly I doubt that Warren Christopher or Madeleine Albright would be of much use, but their presence might help a little.)