Saturday, June 18, 2005

Our Center of Gravity

Though we are winning in Iraq and in the war on terror, our public is tiring of the struggle. Opinion polls show more support for getting our troops out of Iraq. I'm not sure what to make of it since other polling would surely show we should win. Heck, while I want to win, I too want to get our troops out of the fighting business in Iraq and eventually out completely.

Victor Hanson has an excellent article on who we fight. His concluding remarks:

The problem the administration faces is not entirely a military one: Our armed forces continue to perform heroically and selflessly under nearly impossible conditions of global scrutiny and hypercriticism. There has not been an attack on the U.S. since 9/11 — despite carnage in Madrid and over 1,000 slaughtered in Russia by various Islamic terrorists during the same period.

Rather, the American public is tiring of the Middle East, its hypocrisy and whiny logic — and to such a degree that it sometimes unfortunately doesn't make distinctions for the Iraqi democratic government or other Arab reformers, but rather is slowly coming to believe the entire region is ungracious, hopeless, and not worth another American soldier or dollar.

This is a dangerous trend. Despite murderous Syrian terrorists, dictatorial Saudis, crazy Pakistanis, and triangulating European allies, and after so many tragic setbacks, we are close to creating lasting democratic states in Afghanistan and Iraq — states that are influencing the entire region and ending the old calculus of Middle Eastern terror. We are winning even as we are told we are losing. But the key is that the American people need to be told — honestly and daily — how and why those successes came about and must continue before it sours on the entire sorry bunch.

I haven't mentioned this lately, but I know I did earlier in the insurgency and terror campaign in Iraq, but this erosion of support is the fault of our administration. It has been an error to assume public support and that we will win quickly enough to make erosion of public support irrelevant.

From the President on down, the administration has failed to hammer home the point that we are at war and that we are winning. There is no need for sugar coating but our people must be bolstered in their faith in ultimate victory. Instead, opponents of the war have moved into the vacuum to question our goals, or tactics, and the integrity of our soldiers and Marines. So our people hear what those who have always opposed this fight and what those easily discouraged have to say. Is it any wonder that poll numbers are weak?

The President has replied to the silly Kucinich-inspired withdrawal resolution by vowing we will not withdraw before victory:

"The terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"We will settle for nothing less than victory" over terrorists there, he said later.

Bush's radio address is part of a series of appearances and speeches in the coming weeks aimed at countering poll ratings that are near their lowest levels on both the Iraq war and the economy. Bush said his administration is committed to success in both areas of concern for Americans.

This is good. But it is not enough. Not nearly. I hope it really is the start of real communication with our people. Our troops will not let us down if we do not let them down. Shortage of armor--mythical or real--will not stop our troops. We as a nation need our determination armored up far more.