Friday, September 24, 2004

Getting Closer: The election is finally focussing on today's problems, notably the war in Iraq. We had get through several tours of duty in Vietnam before we could start talking about the 21st Century again.

Unfortunately, it took a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks in that country to regain our focus. Keep in mind, the terrorists in Iraq are well aware of our election timetable. And they are unleashing these attacks, in part, to influence our elections.

But that doesn't explain why hotspots, like Fallujah, show no signs of cooling, and why attacks are occurring in Baghdad again. One report even indicates that the mega-secure Green Zone isn't all that safe anymore. Despite the lengthy conflict, the body count, and the destruction, there seems to be very little real progress lately toward diminishing the terrorist threat.

Kerry has finally wizened up to make that conflict the emphasis of his campaign. He seems to even be a little more consistent in his criticisms. Unfortunately Kerry is undermined by extreme lefties, like MoveOn, and their defeatism, as they have been itching for America to embroil itself in a "quagmire" since we began the war in Afghanistan. And despite bringing up legitimate questions about the progress in Iraq, Kerry has been catching some flak for spreading his criticism to include Prime Minister Allawi and American allies in the coalition.

Bush is still struggling to explain why things appear to be getting out of hand and how he plans to make Iraq safer. Repeating the refrain "staying the course" won't magically make everything better.

Iraq has become a tougher endeavor than we bargained for. That doesn't mean it was wrong. It unfortunately limits what we'll be able to do in the future. To put this into perspective, Volokh links to a column citing the problems we had in wars that are considered successes.

In July, the United States handed sovereignty of Iraq back to the Iraqi people. While that did not end the violence in that country, it changed the meaning of the attacks from terrorism against the U.S. military to terrorism against the Iraqi people and the U.S. military. Iraqis are beginning to claim their country again, and they are fighting back against the terrorists and Baathist insurgency. As Iraqi residents see what brutes the terrorists are, they are providing more information to our intelligence gatherers, making it easier to root out the terrorists there.

The next key will be to push for the elections to go on schedule. The fear is that some areas, like Fallujah, won't be able to participate if violence hasn't quelled. That should compel even more cooperation among Iraqis to fight the terrorists if they want the freedom to vote. And an elected Iraqi government will have more legitimacy to fight back against the insurgency.

No one said this would be easy. But no war has ever gone as planned.


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