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November 07, 2007

"Of Diplomats And Men"

Dean Barnett and William Kristol team up to rap the I-wanna-stay-home ex-globe-hoppers.

[M]ore State Department employees have been killed by al Qaeda and allied groups outside Iraq, in East Africa and Jordan and elsewhere, in recent years. Does their sacrifice count for nothing? Is the State Department not also involved in fighting these brutal terrorists? Are timidity and grievance-mongering appropriate for senior U.S. government officials engaged in the conduct of the nation's foreign policy?

It's certainly the prerogative of government employees not to "believe in what's going on over there." But until they resign, they are still supposed to help carry out U.S. government policy. How many other parts of the executive branch don't believe we're at war or are quietly refusing to help the war effort? We know about the CIA leaks that have gushed from Langley the last few years with the express aim of wounding the administration. We also know that parts of the Pentagon want to abandon Iraq so they can return to their preferred terrain of orderly rotations, procuring new hardware, and preparing for World War Whatever with China or some other great power.

History will someday view President Bush's steadfastness in pursuing an unpopular war, and his courage in (finally) finding the right generals and the right strategy, as an admirable example of presidential leadership. The latest numbers out of Iraq have confirmed the extraordinary progress of recent months--the kind of progress that many, not only in the media and Congress, but also in the State Department and the Pentagon, all but insisted was impossible mere
months ago.

Still, it's a blemish on the president's record that he has never been able to get the whole government apparatus to pitch in on the war effort, or even to stop certain factions from undermining it. Last week, he complained that "some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war." He was not wrong, but he bears some responsibility for this state of affairs. His administration was slow to beef up the military after 9/11, unwilling to revamp our intelligence and diplomatic establishments, and loath to give the American people a constructive way to assist the war effort beyond suggesting that they go shopping.

I'm not sure I buy that last knock on Bush. I'm also not sure I should discount it. But what was the President to do, given the severe hit to the economy and the anxieties over future attacks depressing economic activity?

"It's WAR-- Hit the Mall" is not the most inspiring declaration, but in fact what was the average citizen to do? Is the Weekly Standard advocating the reintroduction of war bonds and victory gardens?


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posted by Ace at 03:52 PM

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