A Tom Paine Moment

by Clifford D. May

Norman Podhoretz’s new Commentary piece notes the similarities and differences “between the American panic of 1776-7 and the American panic of 2005-6.”

When the American Revolution was going less well than had been expected, “there was sound reason to fear that the British would succeed in routing Washington’s forces. In Iraq today, however, and in the Middle East as a whole, a successful outcome is staring us in the face. Clearly, then, the panic over Iraq—which expresses itself in increasingly frenzied calls for the withdrawal of our forces—cannot have been caused by the prospect of defeat. On the contrary, my twofold guess is that the real fear behind it is not that we are losing but that we are winning, and that what has catalyzed this fear into a genuine panic is the realization that the chances of pulling off the proverbial feat of snatching an American defeat from the jaws of victory are rapidly running out.”

Also: “[R]elentless harping on American casualties by the mainstream media is part of an increasingly desperate effort to portray Iraq as another Vietnam: a foolish and futile (if not immoral and illegal) resort to military power in pursuit of a worthless (if not unworthy) goal.”

He points out, too, that “the despotisms in the Middle East are not thousands of years old, and they were not created by Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. All of them were established after World War I—that is, less than a century ago—by the British and the French.

“This being the case, there is nothing ‘utopian’ about the idea that such regimes—planted with shallow roots by two Western powers—could be uprooted with the help of a third Western power, and that a better political system could be put in their place. And, in fact, this is exactly what has been happening before our very eyes in Iraq.”

This is required reading.

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