Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5765

Michael Long

Mike Long
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Iraq: Where We Stand



http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | By 2004, we have grown accustomed to immediate answers and swift resolutions to everything. But in Iraq, we muddle through. The near-daily killing of our troops 6200 miles away, compounded by vicious criticism of our character at home and abroad, makes supporters of the war squirm and doubt. Every cluster of murders counts as a victory for the insurgents, while our victory will come only when Iraq is building democracy by its own power. That will take a while.


Americans aren't very good at patience, and we are in a situation where patience is key.


It is time to attack some of the doubts.


Pull at the thread that tempted pundits through December: Should Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld go? Absolutely not. Ask yourself: If someone else were in charge, what specifically would you have him do differently? If you in your living room can so easily construct such a superior plan, ask yourself why the Bush administration is not executing it already.


Or maybe those prosecuting the war know more about the situation on the ground than the armchair generals getting their daily briefings from the nightly news.


It is hard to be pleased with the progress of the war when every up and down (and all we see are the downs) is the Internet and cable headline of the moment.


And if it bleeds, it leads. Another car bomb makes a good story. A soldier finishing the roof on a school does not. Yet those little victories happen every day.


This is a time for the long view, but we live in a time that suffocates patience.


A good friend once gifted me this bit of common sense: don't look at the value of your retirement portfolio every day. It will go up and down all the time, and you'll be sick with worry, and you will be tempted to change your strategy. But that would be a terrible mistake. If you plan wisely at the beginning and check in only once in a while, then, at the end, you will have achieved what you set out to do.

Donate to JWR


It is just so with this war. The overall trend is in our favor. We are paving the way for self-government by establishing infrastructure: schools, roads, utilities, and most of all a restored confidence that day-to-day life in Iraq can become normal. And not normal again, but normal for the first time. Normal as in free.


American military power alone won't defeat the insurgents. The strength of a free Iraq will  —  but our job just now is to get that nation over the threshold to become that free country. Victory is not just about American pride. The strength or weakness of radical Islam and anti-Western terror is the central issue of the 21st century. Its resolution will define how we live, day to day.


Let's never close our eyes and hope for the best in Iraq. But we are now in danger of being distracted by the pain of the war to the point that we may lose the courage of our convictions. The ugliness of war is front and center. But the ugliness of a terrorist regime like Saddam's is even worse and always hidden, which makes it easy to point to fighting in Iraq and call the price too high.


I have put my faith in our leaders because they seem to share my values and have demonstrated a commitment to the best interests of the nation. If they have betrayed that trust, there ought to be hell to pay.


But we are in no position to make such a judgment today.


Pronouncements from pundits, retired generals, and the occasional battlefield outpost are incomplete at best, and of dubious motivation at worst. Forming an opinion on the war from a handful of tiny perspectives is like getting a description of the elephant from blind men feeling ears and the tail.


I will offer one suggestion, though: Mr. President, remind the nation why we are in Iraq. Tell us every week. Bring us the good news we don't hear. (The Wall Street Journal runs a summary every two weeks from Australian Arthur Chrenkoff.) And remember that this is an impatient country inundated with bloody headlines. Remind us to be patient. Remind us why our cause is noble. And show us how we are going to win. It is so easy to forget.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.

Up

08/05/03: The California Virus
07/24/03: A Few Thoughts on the News
07/10/03: How To Win By Losing: It's much smarter to let this one go
06/20/03: Dems turn a sensible question into pure politics
03/19/03: Another thing for Bill Clinton to Zip Up: his time, it's his mouth
02/25/03: The Cradle of Civilization, Again
01/31/03: Silencing opponents because you can
01/28/03: You can't always eat what you want ... But you still can, for a while 01/10/03: What They Believe For The Moment
12/06/02: Federal Spending: Look At It This Way And weep
11/15/02: On the radio: What really happens behind the scenes at talk shows
11/08/02: Coming Soon: 1972
10/31/02: The Election Goes Republican: Election 2002 finds Democrats alienating nearly everyone
10/22/02: What if we never catch the terrorist-sniper?
10/04/02: A Few Thoughts On The News
09/27/02: Goodbye To All That: The terrible, wide war that must be fought
09/20/02: The Florida Lesson: We need better voters, not better machines
09/13/02: A few thoughts on the news
09/06/02: Give Them What They Want
08/13/02: The Dangerous Lull on Iraq ... And how today's delay proves why 9/11 had to happen
07/26/02: Where's Honest Debate on Judge Owen?: NOW members should demand better of President Kim Gandy
07/19/02: A Secret No One Can Keep: Why Osama bin Laden is still alive
07/09/02: Don't forget why Bush was elected
06/28/02: The bravest pop culture icon in the war on terror
06/14/02: Five Thoughts On Father's Day: Personal Stuff
06/06/02: Stay Awake, Grads, I'm Almost Done Talking: Life, and How to Live It
05/31/02: See This Movie: "The Sum of All Fears" is a wake-up call
05/24/02: Richard Simmons for President? What really motivates the fat-taxers
05/13/02: The Carnival at the FAIR: "Unbiased" acquires a new definition
04/22/02: Bottled And Sold: Economic Confidence Under a Screw-top
04/12/02: McGovern's Respectful Dissent
04/02/02: The Right to Do Wrong: The Creator, A Clockwork Orange, and war
03/26/02: The Big Story No One Talks About: Why isn't Washington serious about airport security?
03/18/02: Worlds Away: A snapshot of anti-Semitism in the Moslem world
03/08/02: The safest place in the world --- for now
03/05/02: Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
02/22/02: And Then What?: Fear and Loathing Around the Corner
02/15/02: Al Gore and the real root cause of terrorism
02/08/02: A few thoughts on the news
02/01/02: Ready, Aim, Cloud The Issue: An irresponsible report on "terrorism" from the Brady Center
01/28/02: Discretion and Art, Part 2
01/16/02: Discretion and Art
01/08/02: Desperate Dems
12/18/01: Politics and Holidays
12/07/01: A war bigger than we know: Changing the future, slowly and surely
11/28/01: A Mid-Winter Night's Dream: A play in one fun act
11/20/01: A Lot of War Left To Fight
11/13/01: Guess who Clinton's apologizing for now: I'll bet you guessed right
11/02/01: Rules for Wartime: Rule Number One: Remember what's true
10/26/01: The Moral Case For Torture: Dirty hands don't always mean dirty souls
10/19/01: Questions for the Anti-War Crowd, Part II: What if someone took them seriously?
10/16/01: Questions for the anti-war crowd: If they question you, ask these back
10/12/01: The Jason Problem: Sometimes they only look dead
10/08/01: A little hindsight: A letter for readers in the future
09/28/01: Calling Bono: A plea to the pop culture elite to speak out
09/20/01: Encouragement from the Heartland, by mail
09/13/01: Bleeding time
09/07/01: The trailer-park taste of the public radio catalog
09/04/01: BRAVE NEW FREUD: Internet-based psychiatry may mean relief for those who have shunned treatment
08/17/01: First Amendment: Chickens home to roost
08/10/01: PRESS RELEASE: UNREPENTANT SHARK MURDERER LOUNGES IN HOSPITAL
07/27/01: Dispatch From The Front: The Gun Control War
07/20/01: Summer song
07/03/01: It's a Wonderful Recount


© 2004, Michael Long