As mid-term elections approach, it is reasonable to expect political partisans to try to make Iraq and terror into issues that divide Democrats and Republicans.
William Kristol is certainly correct to point out that Clinton’s red meat slap at Fox and the “right-wingers” behind ABC’s “The Path to 9/11″ was a calculated piece of political theater. And Kristol is candid enough to acknowledge the flip side:
Republican efforts (engineered by the dastardly Karl Rove) to paint Democrats as unreliable in the war on terror… Bush and Rove have had a few good weeks on this issue.
The crux of Rove’s strategy is to transform all discussions of Iraq into discussions of terror. And Democrats will surely be tempted to try to claim this turf for themselves by suggesting that Iraq is now about terror because of Bush’s misguided war (good luck with that!).
The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal seems to rejoice in all this.
When the New York Times published elements of a classified National Intelligence Estimate report suggesting that the war in Iraq had fueled terrorist activity, the Journal essentially begged for more. They published an editorial entitled, “Declassify the Terrorism NIE” (subscription only):
So here’s our suggestion for President Bush: Declassify the entire NIE…
As for the substance of the 2006 NIE’s alleged claims, does anyone doubt that many jihadis are rallying against the American presence in Iraq? The newspapers tell us that much every day. Whether the war in Iraq has produced more terrorist hatred than would otherwise exist, however, is a matter of opinion and strategic judgment.
The White House promptly adopted this strategy. More recently, in an editorial entitled “The Decision to Declassify,” the Journal‘s editorial page focuses on the response from Democrats:
The one policymaker who appears to have been swept away on the basis of the leak is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. After Mr. Bush made his announcement, Ms. Pelosi called for the House to go into a “closed” session — the first since 1983 — to discuss the NIE. We’ll set aside the manifest absurdity of the House going into “secret session” to discuss a classified document being made public. The point of Ms. Pelosi’s stunt is to gain traction for the Democratic campaign strategy of telescoping the national-security debate down to her party’s proposal to withdraw from Iraq, thereby neutralizing the GOP’s advantage when the debate is on the broader war on terror…
We will hold an election in this country in six weeks and a bigger one in 2008. The war on terror — with or without Iraq — will be central to those votes. If declassifying this national intelligence estimate helps voters in that decision, so much the better.
Hmmm. Hardly shaking in their boots.
The weakness in the Pelosi’s position is not her “proposal” to withdraw from Iraq. The key problem there is that the rest of the Democratic Party refuses to embrace a populist anti-war position.
Instead, the weakness in Pelosi’s position is the effort to try to link Iraq and terror–to use Iraq to say that the war on terror is more serious than the administration acknowledges.
I believe that is what is called an own goal. “So much the better,” as the Journal says.
An “Establishment” Insurgency
On the war in Iraq, the Bush administration does actually face a political insurgency on the home front.
The base of that insurgency, however, arises from within the [Right Arabist] Foreign Policy Estabisment itself–the State Department, the CIA, and the military brass.
This, at least, is the common complaint among Right Zionists. In a May 3, 2004 article at the National Review Online Michael Rubin of AEI lamented:
The State Department, CENTCOM, and CIA [argue] that only a strongman or benign autocrat can govern Iraq…
Who leaked the NIE to the New York Times? Was it a partisan democrat loyal to Pelosi? Not a chance.
Forget the Democrats.
All the likely suspects come from within the “Republican Establishment.”
The “Establishment” war against the Right Zionists began with the earliest factional fights over Afghanistan and Iraq. The insurgency has been relentless and it has all been “friendly fire” from within a divided Republican administration.
Who argued against toppling Saddam before the war, while most Democrats were preparing to vote for the war? Brent Scowcroft. No Democrat, he.
Who leaked Major General Antonio M. Taguba’s fifty-three-page report on Abu Ghraib to Seymour Hersh at The New Yorker?
Who published Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror? (Answer: Michael Scheuer, CIA.)
Who published Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror? (Answer: Richard Clarke, NSC).
Who has repeatedly slammed the administration for “De-Baathifying” and “Disbanding the army” in Iraq? Retired General Anthony Zinni.
Who went public with charges against a Neocon “cabal” within the Bush administration? Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to former Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Who continually calls for the head of Donald Rumsfeld? The military brass, most recently a group of retired officers including Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste.
Are these folks in a marriage of convenience with Democrats? Yes.
Are they anti-war pacifists or isolationists? Hell no.
The point was made by Dana Milbank in his Washington Post column, “For Democrats, Welcome Words on Rumsfeld–If Not the War.”
“Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader,” said Batiste, wearing a pinstripe suit, calling himself a “lifelong Republican” and bearing a slight resemblance to Oliver North…
“Our world is much less safe today than it was on September 11,” Batiste said, echoing the administration’s newly leaked intelligence estimate.
Batiste, who retired in protest rather than accept a three-star promotion, was a persuasive witness — and Democrats were joyous…
But Democrats, while celebrating Batiste’s criticism of the administration, exercised some selective listening at the hearing when Batiste and his colleagues offered their solution: more troops, more money and more time in Iraq.
The “real” domestic insurgency is led by Right Arabists who lost control of the ship of state after 9/11. For better or worse, the “real” domestic insurgency is not led by Democrats. It is led by Republicans.
Specifically, Right Arabists.
Right Arabist Republicans like George H.W. Bush.