What I’m hearing from some folks in the military is that the Iraq war has proven tiring for both sides—but it is much more taxing on the enemy than people realize over here. Sooner or later, one side is bound to start getting tired more quickly and more thoroughly than the other. So it is perfectly understandable for folks in the military to say (as I often hear them do) that America can only lose if it loses patience.
Unfortunately, America is growing tired of the apparently endless bad news—and that translates into impatience. This impatience is good news in the short-term for the Democrats, because it unifies their base in opposition to the Bush administration. But it engenders a serious communications problem, because Democratic leaders then find themselves saying a lot of things that are music to the ears of our enemies. It was with great satisfaction that the Iranian press noted Harry Reid’s comments that the war is “lost” so long as we keep following the current strategy–i.e., so long as we keep trying to win. And that is a very embarrassing problem for Harry Reid, no matter how much you may agree with him.
Most Democrats take a principled stand that the situation is hopeless and that the best thing for America is to get out of Iraq. But with so many Americans still in the fight, and still committed to it, the Democratic position engenders a very tricky communications problem—it looks and smells like surrender. And the problem is that we haven’t lost. The object of war is to break the enemy’s will to continue fighting. And the enemy has not yet broken our will to continue fighting. And people are justified in thinking that the enemy may crack first.
So long as a lot of the military remains committed to winning, and so long as even 40% of Americans remain committed to the fight, the Democrats are going to have a serious problem. If that problem is difficult for masterful politicians to handle, it is overwhelming for the more innocent and simple-minded. That is what happened this week to hapless old Harry Reid. He walked right into the path of a wrecking ball, and the very next day, he walked right into it again.