This paragraph from the lead editorial yesterday on OpionionJournal.com reveals an unusual kindliness by the Wall Street Journal towards Bush Aministration critics.
We don't single out Mr. Galbraith to underscore how wrong Administration critics turned out to be. Rather, like others who supported the President's decision to go to war in March 2003, he is emblematic of how the U.S. effort nearly came undone: not because of this or that tactical misstep, but because too many among America's elite lost their nerve when the going got tough.
So that's it? They lost their nerve? If they did, it wasn't the nerve to go to war in Iraq that they lost. It was the nerve to win the war in Iraq under a Republican Administration. Political opportunity arose and critics jumped at it. Iraq would be a quagmire, they said. The war would make us less safe, they said. Al Qaeda would become stronger as Arab rage fueled recruitment, they said.
And when Saddam's regime was toppled, they carped that there was no plan to win the peace. There were not enough troops, they said. We have to have an exit strategy, they said. The troops should come home, they said. The "insurgents" were Iraqi patriots, and the Americans war criminals. Democracy won't take in Iraq, they said. The Bush Administration was criminally incompetent, they said. They have been monumentally wrong right down the line.
During the election campaign last year, Bush was asked at a press conference if he thought he made any errors in the War on Terror. None came to mind, and the critics made a big deal out of that. What hubris. The man won't admit a mistake. That's where the Democratic leadership in Washington sits right now. They can't admit they were wrong. Look how they're lining up against the Bolton nomination for UN ambassador.
John Bolton is the Bush foreign policy strategy personified. He says unkind things about the UN. He's blunt and direct. He is a defender of American interests, and he is not opposed to the effective use of American military power to secure them when it is necessary. He supports the President's policies in Iraq, in the Middle East, and in the world, because those policies further American interests. So the Democrats to a man say he must be defeated.
No, for Administration critics nerve is not the problem. And it would be a kindness to say that those critics misjudged the situation in Iraq, but the error in judgment was of a political nature. This was the "loyal" opposition pulling out the Vietnam playbook, painting a bleak picture in an effort to capture the White House. This was a campaign to destroy home front support for American military action in Iraq. And how hypocritical of them, to mouth support for "our troops" while trying mightily to undermine the cause for which those troops fight.
What kind of judgement can those critics be said to have, when they have been willing to risk national security for the sake of their political prospects. The fact is they've misjudged so badly that you have to wonder, how can they presume to instruct, why do they seek to govern. They haven't even been close, in either their assessment of the War on Terror, or the consequences of their own political strategies. No. Nerve is not the problem.