My point, Andy, is perspective. It’s hard to have it in the middle of a conflict. If I had a nickel for the number of times in the 1980s that very sober neoconservatives expressed their utter conviction in my earshot that the policies of the Reagan administration were soft and not confrontational enough and not cognizant enough of the enemy’s ruthless cleverness and that, intrinsically, we were “losing the Cold War,” I would have about $27.50 today.
Of course you should attack Bush from the Right if you feel he isn’t doing enough. Intellectual honesty demands no less, and the neocons who attacked Reagan from the Right were being intellectually honest. But there was — or at least the results demonstrated later that there was — something delusional going on, as though nothing we were actually doing at the time was having any effect on the Soviets and the Soviet bloc.
I bring this up not because I think the parallels are exact — they’re not, we’re in greater immediate peril now and we have more than 100,000 soldiers in peril as well — but because the experience of giving into despair in the 1980s helped blind many of us to the kinds of changes that were coming and helped keep us fighting amongst ourselves. Remember the ludicrous, preposterous and basically insane effort by the Heritage Foundation to get George Shultz — who history will record was one of the greatest Secretaries of State this country has ever produced — fired? I remember it. It was a big deal. And to this day I’ve never heard anyone on the Right proffer Shultz an apology for the way he was smeared and libeled by people with blinkered vision.
By insisting on holding President Bush to a standard no American president could possibly reach in the pursuit of the global war on terror, you are absenting yourself from political reality — and any good geopolitical-military analysis has to take into account political reality.
Andy, as a result of your heroic work against jihadists in the American courts in the 1990s, you have been a combatant in this fight a lot longer than most people. You have earned your right to worry and despair. I just think you are not doing this country enough credit for already having changed facts on the ground.