May 9, 2004

This year's battlefield in the War...


From an interesting post by Iain Murray. I think there's a lot of truth in this:

...Such criticisms miss the point. It is true that there will be no major expansions of the war this year because of the US election, but the reason for that is not some dastardly example of a victory for partisan politics over the national interest, rather it is the complete opposite. For the US Election is this year's battlefield in the War on Terror. Just as in 2001 the focus was on Afghanistan, in 2002 it was the UN and last year it was Iraq.

The truth is that the Bush Administration is tired, and has achieved about all that it can in this term. That is no criticism - it is remarkable, given the circumstances of Bush's victory that so much progress has been made, but winning those battles has taken its toll. Endless bouts of diplomatic wrangling, the complete overhaul of the basis of America's foreign policy, the invasion of two countries, two massive tax-cuts and the maintenance of a national war footing, all achieved in the face of a hostile press, intransigent Generals and a diplomatic corps in open revolt have drawn on President Bush's supply of political capital to the extent that it is now depleted.

The only thing that will refill that store is victory in November. Just as the Republican victories in the 2002 mid-terms led directly to breaking the deadlock in the United Nations, so the re-election of Bush will devastate the hopes of so many of America's foes. The thought of how the Europeans would react to his re-election is almost reason enough to cheer for it...

It's easy for us bloggers to sit comfortably and say, "The Administration should do this. And that. And we mustn't forget X, Y and Z."

But the truth is, the only way for a government to accomplish anything is to focus on a few high-priority items. Trying to do everything, or trying to win a battle every week, is a recipe for paralysis.

I remember the near despair I felt in the Summer of 2002. Bush seemed to be doing nothing, and I was sure that a time of golden opportunity was being squandered. How wrong I was! Plans were quietly maturing, and, as Andy Card said, to the New York Times: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Remember how Dems yelped when he said that! vile Capitalism invading the sacred purlieus of government.! Poor Card hasn't done too much talking since. But it's really a perfectly appropriate metaphor. Both parties market their plans and policies, "selling" them to the public.

Bush's moves in September and October of 2002 were dazzling. Congress authorized the Iraq Campaign, Democrats were put behind the 8-ball over the Dept of Homeland Security. We won back the Senate and made gains in the House. (What a blissful moment.) And the UN was persuaded to pass Resolution 1441. Our stores of human energy and political capital were applied at just the right time. And the victories gave the administration new reserves of political capital. Reserves that were not hoarded, but spent to good purpose.


Posted by John Weidner at May 9, 2004 10:55 AM
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