"Things are as they are, and their consequences
will be what they will be. Why then should we seek to be deceived?"
Columnist Stewart Alsop, dead now these 30 years, once closed a column
with this quote from the philosopher Bishop Berkeley. His column, I believe,
was about Vietnam.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11, we, too, can see the shape
of things to come.
In the ideology of "democratic fundamentalism" to which George W. Bush
converted after 9/11, we are simply in a rough patch on the glory road to a
democratic Middle East and "the end of tyranny on this earth."
In reality, our situation has never been more grim.
The successful experiment that featured the "freest, fairest elections
ever held" in Palestine is dead. Over 125 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza.
The Gaza Strip is a shambles. The terror wing of Hamas will have no trouble
recruiting in the rubble.
The same is true of Lebanon. The "Cedar Revolution" was a Bush success,
a beacon of hope. That Hezbollah won a dozen seats only seemed to prove that
the elections had indeed been free, fair, and open to all.
Now Lebanon is in ruins. The 900 dead, thousands wounded, the million refugees,
the smashed infrastructure, and the scores of thousands of Westerners who have
fled means years before Lebanon recovers, if ever she does. Arab hatred of Israel
and America is pandemic.
Hezbollah ignited the hostilities. But it was Israel that escalated to
rain destruction on a people and nation that had not countenanced or condoned
Hezbollah's provocation, but condemned it.
Think back. Had Reagan done to Lebanon, when half a dozen Americans were
seized as hostages, what Israel has done, when two soldiers were taken hostage,
Democrats would have denounced Reagan as a war criminal. Conservatives would
have begged him to ease up.
Yet, almost to a man and woman, our politicians are falling all over one
another to express their 100 percent support of what Israel has done to Lebanon.
Even Israelis must feel a measure of contempt for this kind of groveling.
Indeed, in Israel, dissent against the blitzkrieg is rising, and the Olmert
regime is being challenged and even condemned by courageous Israelis for letting
the air force have a free hand to smash Lebanon.
Moving on to Iraq, where the war has lasted as long as our war on Nazi
Germany, Gen. John Abizaid is warning that a descent into civil war is now possible,
and Bush concedes that, three years and three months after "Mission Accomplished,"
the situation in Baghdad is "terrible."
Questions now on the table are: Will America let go? Will Iraq break apart?
Americans are not all that far away from a strategic disaster.
Whatever happens to Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, the new center of gravity
of the Democratic Party is antiwar. Democratic hawks are a dying species. Al
Gore now emerges, given his authentic antiwar credentials and emergence as a
world leader of the global warming movement, as the Left's best hope for the
Kerry and Edwards, the 2004 ticket, know which way the wind is blowing.
Both have declared that had they known in 2002 what they know today, they would
not have voted for the war. Hillary senses the ground shifting beneath her feet.
Last week, she scourged Rumsfeld, called for his resignation, and denounced
Pentagon mismanagement of the war.
Two years and three months before November 2008, the Democratic Party has
pulled out of the Bush coalition; two-thirds of the nation considers Iraq a
mistake; and a majority wants the troops home.
Can Bush sustain support for the war as the news from Iraq gets worse and
worse? For, if this war is lost on the home front, the war will be lost in Mesopotamia.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are fighting in larger units and, colluding
with drug lords, killing more Afghans and allied troops than they have in five
years. Hamid Karzai reigns in Kabul but does not rule. U.S.-NATO forces are
not losing battles, but they are insufficient in number to win the war.
Iran, fearful of Bush in 2003, is now rejecting U.S.-EU bribes and rejecting
any suspension of its uranium enrichment program. Bring it on, Ahmadinejad seems
to be saying to Bush. As for Pakistan, the Islamists there remain but a bullet
away from custody of an atomic bomb.
While all these are trends, none seem to be going our way.
The Israeli-American ace of trumps, raw military power, is still able to
defeat armies and destroy states, but it has proven less effective in eradicating
guerrillas, and counterproductive in changing Islamic hearts and minds.
If neither U.S. party is willing to show any independence of Israel, if
America will not address the root causes of Arab animosity, and if we will not
even negotiate with our enemies, we should probably pack up and get out of the
Middle East. Before we are thrown out.
COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.