Sunday, 24 August 2003

August 24, 2003

The 'neocons' are getting nervous about the situation in Iraq, particularly the Bush administration's commitment. And so are a few editorial allies.

It largely boils down to a simple question: are we at War (and not war, or "war") or are we not? If the answer to the first is yes, then priorities must change, both domestically and abroad. We must stop carping about troops being "stretched thin" and recognize that casualties, sacrifice and burden come with the territory. We mustn't complain, as Joe Biden does, that there are "too many" Americans invovled - after all we were the ones attacked on September 11th, not the Indians or Pakistanis or any other country being courted to send more troops into the theatre. If the U.S. is at War, then it's U.S. troops that will largely do the fighting.

But if the answer is no, than all these hardships in Iraq are far, far harder to justify. And the failure opens up Bush for a tidal wave of criticism.

This present state of confusion has been born by a muddled message from the President. Bush wants to split the difference, a war footing abroad with nothing to upset the domestic applecart and the orgy of social spending at home. This is untenable. He was right to declare September 11th an act of War. Now it's time to tell the American people that we are still, deeply, immersed in this War and that the burden falls on us to win it.

UPDATE: The administration responds.

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