Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: The Defeaticrats - Of hearts and minds, at home and in Iraq
Posted on 12/16/2005 3:54:38 PM PST by UnklGene
The Defeaticrats -
Of hearts and minds, at home and in Iraq
Hands up, everyone who thinks Iraqs a quagmire.
Not the Iraqi people: According to the latest polls, 70 percent think life is good, and 69 percent are optimistic that things will get even better in the year ahead. For purposes of comparison, they took a similar poll in Europe a while back: In France, 29 percent said they were optimistic about the future; in Germany, 15 percent. Sixty-three percent of Iraqis say they feel very safe in their own neighborhoods, which is more than the residents of Clichy-sous-Bois can say.
Well, okay, those cheerful Iraqis are probably Shiites and Kurds and whatnot. How about the Sunnis? For a small minority group that held a disproportionate and repressive grip on power for decades, theyve been getting a more solicitous press from Western liberals than the white Rhodesians or South Africas National party ever got. But it turns out, after their strategically disastrous decision to stay home in last Januarys vote, the Sunnis are participating in Iraqs democratic process in ever greater numbers.
Oh, okay, so the Shiites and Kurds and Sunnis are feeling chipper, but in the broader Middle East the disastrous neocon invasion has inflamed moderate Arab opinion against America. Well, its true the explosive Arab street finally exploded the other day with 200,000 Jordanians protesting in Amman, waving angry banners and yelling, Burn in hell, Rumsfeld, and, You are a coward, Bush. Whoops, my mistake: They were yelling, Burn in hell, Zarqawi, and, You are a coward, Zarqawi. If you want to hear someone yelling, You are a coward, Bush, youve got to go to Cindy Sheehans stakeout. And, in fairness to the network news divisions, it may be because so many of their camera crews have taken up permanent residence at the otherwise underpopulated Camp Cindy that they were unable to cover what was the largest demonstration against terrorism ever seen on the streets of the Middle East.
Oh, well. So the Shiites and Kurds and Sunni Iraqis and the Arab street are all on board, but come on, what about the insurgents? Everybody knows theyre winning . . . but, er, apparently they dont. The Baathist diehard insurgents have split from the foreign al-Qaeda insurgents. While the latter denounced the Iraqi election as a Satanic project, the Saddamite remnants urged Sunnis to participate and said theyd protect polling stations from attacks by the foreign terrorists so that citizens could vote for their approved candidates (the leftover bits of Uday and Qusay, now running on the Psychotic Dictatorship Nostalgia Party ticket). This division between the foreign nutcakes and the domestic nutcakes is the biggest strategic split over the insurgency since Joe Lieberman respectfully distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi.
INSURGENCY AND ITS DISCONTENTS On the other hand, this does belatedly prove the anti-war crowds long-held view that Saddams secular Baathists and Osamas theocrat terrorists would never collaborate, even if it took until last month for the participants themselves to get wise to it. And, alas, unlike the Dems with Hillary, in the Sunni Triangle theres no Sunni triangulator to craft a more nuanced position to hold both the Lieberbaathist and Pelosama wings together.
So the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, the Arab street, and the Baath party have figured Iraqi democracys winning. That leaves al-Qaeda. Well, not exactly: Ayman Zawahiri, the number-two honcho in al-Qaeda while theyre maintaining the polite fiction that bin Ladens still functioning, recently rapped terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the knuckles and called on him to cut out killings that the masses do not understand or approve. (The twitchy Mr. Zawahiri was presumably thinking of, for example, the assassination of the septuagenarian grand imam of Fallujah for urging Sunnis to get out and vote.)
So the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, the Arab street, the Baath party, and bin Ladens deputy think the insurgencys a bust. Hands up, who thinks its winning?
Well, theres Howard Dean: The idea that we are going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong. And look over there, its Jack Murtha, and hes a veteran, and he thinks we need to scramble for the last chopper over the embassy compound right now! Theres a civil war going, he says. Our troops are the targets of the civil war. Theyre the only people that could have unified the various factions in Iraq. And theyre unified against us.
By us, I think he means him and Zarqawi. And no, Im not questioning his patriotism; Im questioning his sanity. It was famously said that the Vietnam War was lost on television. In this instance, the Iraq Wars being lost only on television. In Iraq, its a tremendous victory. Indeed, it has the potential to be one of the most consequential, transformative victories of the modern age; but even if it doesnt ever fulfill that potential, its still a huge success.
DAZED AND CONFUSED Ive never been one for winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Heart-wise, an awful lot of them dislike infidels and Jews and American soldiers, and, while one may deplore that, its just a fact of life. But, in their minds, as those poll numbers indicate, the Iraqis are rational enough to work out where their best interest lies. And, quite reasonably, they figure it doesnt lie with a psychotic death cult that nowadays mainly blows up Muslims on buses, in shopping markets, schools, and even mosques. Thats the worst corporate diversification since Seagrams bought Universal Pictures. And at least Seagrams still made whisky; Zarqawi isnt killing a lot of infidels these days.
So Iraqs hearts and minds are operating far more rationally than the Democrats, who these days are both heartless, in their indifference to the aspirations of ordinary Arabs, and mindless, in their calculation of their own best interests. I find Chirac-Schroeder obstructionism easier to understand than the Dean-Boxer variety. For EU politicians, as those French and German poll numbers indicate, theres not a lot of good options when half the babies in your maternity wards are Muslim. But whats the thinking behind what the Democrats are doing?
Easy, you say: Its naked partisan politics. And, to be sure, the broader culture has kind of internalized it as such, to the point where, for example, Dan Balz can publish a huge piece in the Washington Post that from its headline down Hillary Clinton Crafts Centrist Stance on War assumes that its perfectly natural to talk about the foreign policy and national security of ones own country entirely in political terms. For Balz and for everyone he quotes in the piece, the point of a policy on Iraq is not to have a policy that affects Iraq in any real sense but to have a policy that advances domestic political fortunes. Iraq might as well be a board game youre in the national playoffs of.
Example: Her refusal to advocate a speedy exit from Iraq may reflect a more accurate reading of public anxiety about the choices now facing the country. Note that Balz takes it for granted that Senator Rodham Clinton should have no principled position on Iraq, no strategic view of the Muslim world, no philosophical preference as to Americas mission abroad, no genuine concerns about security, etc. Indeed, hes implicitly arguing that the greatest strength of Hillary as a viable Democratic presidential candidate poor Joe Liebermans Joementum wont even place him in the Top Ten in the Iowa caucus is that shes the least encumbered with anything that will prevent her from agreeing with whatever the 10 p.m. internal polling numbers are showing.
Take that headline: What would a centrist stance be on, say, the Second World War? Every few days, some media outlet or other runs a piece about how Bush is in a bubble and no doubt he is, to one degree or another, as busy world leaders tend to be, by definition. But the American media raging that Bush is in a bubble are the equivalent of that famous British newspaper headline: Fog in Channel. Continent Cut Off. Whatever bubble Bush is in, its a vast jostling metropolis of diverse peoples stretching to the horizon compared with the shrunken little bubble the Democrats and the media inhabit, reinforcing each others illusions, like two madmen playing Chinese whispers. No serious person by which I mean a fellow whos aware theres a real country called Iraq and its in a part of the world called the Middle East could read that Balz analysis without weeping with laughter. Pseudo-policies are soberly considered as if they had any meaning in reality: Should we withdraw from Europe six months after D-Day? Or commit ourselves to a phased drawing down over three to nine months? Clearly, if we announce well be leaving the Continent by October 27, that might embolden Herr Hitler. But, if we say 10 percent of our forces might remain until February 1947, that will give us a more flexible exit strategy with strong centrist appeal.
REALITY CHECK Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, even the media are occasionally obliged to explain the disconnect between received wisdom on Iraq and the actual physical territory that goes by that name. 85 percent of people in the capital are looking to the future with great enthusiasm, noted Der Spiegel, as impeccably anti-Bush as any publication on the planet, but nonetheless reporting the economic boom, rising incomes, etc., now enjoyed by many Iraqis. The magazine went on: How does this happily expectant mood fit in with the bloody scenes of bombings and shootings, the reports of kidnappings, curfews, and shortages? How indeed? Over to you, media-ethics professors.
Its not difficult: I said a year and a half ago that the way to look at Iraq is that the Sunni Triangle is Northern Ireland, Kurdistan is Scotland, and the Shiite south is England. Dont let a pub bombing in Ballymena prevent you from investing in that privatized telecom company in London.
Im not one of those fellows minded to defer to Jack Murtha because he was a hero in the last war. You could have said the same of Marshal Pétain, and Churchill never listened to him. But I carelessly assumed Murtha did, in fact, have something to say. Instead, as he told Newsweek in one of those Bush in the Bubble stories hes piqued because the president didnt reply to his memo, which, rather than getting hoots of derision, is now regarded as the greatest affront to constitutional propriety since Jim Jeffords failed to land an invite to the White Houses Teacher of the Year reception, for which slight he flipped control of the Senate to Tom Daschle. (Remember him?) If Murtha and Newsweek werent trapped in their own bubble, they might understand that a principled stand has to be more than a guy whining that the president of the United States wont return his calls: The White House has made no attempt to reach out to Murtha since then. None. None. Zero. Not one call, a baffled Murtha told Newsweek. I dont know who the hell theyre talking to. If they talked to people, they wouldnt get these outbursts. If theyd talked to me, it wouldnt have happened.
I know who the hell theyre talking to: On Iraq, the White House is talking to rather a lot of people. Theyre called Iraqis. But Murtha is now the lion of the moment, Cindy Sheehan and Joseph Wilson IV merged into the Murtha of all anti-war heroes. So what if theres no crushing of his dissent, only a sad man who was crushed by being dissed.
But lets take it as read that Im a neocon hack clinging to my feeble Wolfowitz-Perle script as Kurdistan secedes and Shiite theocrats seize the south and Zarqawi commands overwhelming support from the Sunni people. Assume that John Kerry is right that young American soldiers are going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women and that those rampaging Rumsfeldian torturers have brutalized so many of the Iraqi people that theyre unified against us.
Even so, even as crude political finessing, will this pitch work for the Democrats? No. Listen to Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi. They didnt become leaders because some freak accident took out the other contenders. They head the party because they speak for it. Its one thing to be defeatist, but the perverse triumphalism of Deans defeatism will keep his party mired in the minority through 2006 and 2008. Even if they were right, whats the meta-story, as they say, of Mad Hows soundbite? Were the party that glories in defeatism? Vote for us. We told you Americans were losers and were right. Even as shameless self-interest, the Defeaticrat position is a flop.
Unlike those depressed Continentals, Americans are not a pessimistic people, especially when theyve got nothing to be pessimistic about. The tragedy is that, on so-called liberal terms, this is a war Democrats ought to be gung-ho for: More Iraqis participate in the democratic process than Americans; Afghanistan has more women in electoral politics than Canada. Meanwhile, in the most powerful nation on the planet, the two-party system is seizing up because one partys gone nuts. From Murthas Were all doomed unless we quit by Tuesday to John Kerrys I was against setting deadlines before I was for them, the Defeaticrats simply have no serious contribution to make to the most pressing issue of the age. Shame on them, trapped in a quagmire of the mind with no exit strategy in sight.
That is great!
We need signs and bumper snickers.....
"The New Democrats....Defeatocrats."
Oh, and "Cantouchmeocrats" for John McStain.
Thanks for posting. Once again, Mark is right on target!
I love Steyn.
Many FReepers should listen to him.....
The Democrats live in a bizarro world, invisible to you and I.
man o man that has to leave a mark.
Have you seen Mark Steyn's actual bumper sticker (as seen on www.steynonline)?
Free Iraq. Done.
Free Afghanistan. Done.
How's your Free Tibet campaign going?
And yet...and yet...the party will capture something north of 45% of the votes in any national election.
One wonders if their voters are as clueless as their party. Are they really paying attention to what they're voting for?
Great observation, absolutely dead-on.
Vote for us. We told you Americans were losers and were right.
Precision writing. Awesome.
Super Steyn! Thanks for the post!
oh, yeah, these Iraqis are standing in line for their chance to jump into the quagmire--
Most Democrats vote based on what will benefit them personally, right now. Most Republicans vote based on what will benefit our children twenty years from now.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.