The Corner

Re: Peter and Andy and The War

John, it’s always “too despairing” to acknowledge that we’ve lost our way. But we’ve lost our way. I repeat, here’s what the President said when he was rallying us to that great cause that that other Podhoretz (in my view, better than anyone on the planet) has championed:

[W]e will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

Do you really think we’ve treated Iran and Syria in a manner consistent with the President’s rhetoric, John? Even a little bit? Don’t forget, this is what he said BEFORE WE EVER GOT INTO IRAQ! That is, long before they contributed mightily to the terrorist network fighting American forces between 2003 and now.

By the President’s description, which I believe in and most Americans believe in, Iran and Syria were guilty the minute he spoke these words in 2001. Since we invaded Iraq, they have COMPOUNDED the situation by spending their time killing our guys. Can it really be that our reaction–all this time later–is to try to figure out how we might persuade them to be helpful? Do you really think the problem here is that I don’t understand the big picture? That I’m somehow too unsophisticated to grasp the ups and downs of a long war?

These are the facts. I’m sorry it’s despairing. But I AM despairing. I believe in the “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” approach. I thought that was what we all believed. As it happens, I was a believer, based on close observation, for several years before there was a Bush administration. Here’s what I’ve recently been treated to: The President’s spokesman calls Hamas members “business professionals” rather than terrorists. The SECDEF talks about how we’re now negotiating with the insurgency. The people invited to this negotiation included Ansar al-Sunna. They are the terrorists–the people the President said we were going to annihilate, not sit down with. To get to the table in the first place, they murdered 22 people who were committing the great crime of having dinner in a military base in Mosul. And Ansar’s reaction to being invited to the bargaining table is now fairly clear: they’re killing our guys.

So what’s the latest? SECDEF now says maybe Iran and Syria, our enemies, will find their way clear to be “helpful.” And you figure the problem is that I’m too despairing? What’s your view? How do you figure our approach to Iran and Syria stacks up with what the President said in his speech on September 20, 2001?

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