It’s time to move past Iraq finger-pointing
Reaction to the Iraq Study Group report has ranged from hysterical to depressing. Right-wing newspapers and commentators are tending to dismiss the report as a surrender document, compiled by frightened bureaucrats who do not understand war or the stakes in Iraq.
The left-wing media is actually giddy, using the report to bash their least favorite guy: President Bush. Of course, both positions do not do Americans much good because they are based on emotion, not what’s most beneficial to the country.
Let me give you a few examples. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is often incisive in his analysis, actually said on the radio that the Iraqi in- surgents have defeated the U.S. Army.
That statement is completely absurd. It would be like saying the IRA defeated the British Army in Northern Ireland, or Hamas has defeated the Israeli Army in Gaza.
No military organization on the face of the earth can stop thugs from bombing and murdering civilians. The truth is the U.S. military has kept Iraq together and functioning for nearly four years. Mr. Friedman’s assertion is irresponsible.
Likewise, basing your opinion of Iraq on hope is irresponsible. At this point, the evidence says the Iraqi people are not willing to make the sacrifices needed to defeat the anti-democratic forces. Hoping that will change is not a strategy, particularly when Americans are dying. President Bush’s responsibility in this area is twofold — first to give the military the best chance to succeed, and second to define the consequences of failure.
The most important accomplishment of the Iraq Study Group is that it has created a sense of urgency. Surely, the new Iraqi government now realizes that the presence of the United States and Britain is not guaranteed. The massive amount of corruption and duplicity in Iraq must be dealt with by the government, or it will perish. The poobahs in Baghdad have been put on notice.
In America, the Study Group’s findings have been used by the usual partisans in the usual ways. “NBC News,” which has taken a pronounced turn to the left, led the way by focusing on the Iraq “failure” rather than on what can be done to make a bad situation better. NBC White House correspondent David Gregory was even branded a “partisan” by Tony Snow in a press conference. Mr. Snow is correct.
With so much on the line in Iraq and the Middle East, it angers me that the press and individual Americans cannot rise above their petty ideological hangups and work for success in Iraq. Is Democracy not a noble goal in that country? Do the dopey partisans not understand Iran is a deadly threat who will benefit greatly if Iraq goes under?
It is long past time to point fingers at those who are hurting the United States. A big digit goes to the Iraqi people, who are not making the sacrifices needed to defeat the forces of totalitarianism. And the second finger of fate is pointed at the American media, who has allowed its hatred of President Bush to distort its objectivity.
If you really want to study what has gone wrong in the quest to bring democracy to a vital, turbulent part of the world, let those two fingers point you in the right direction.
Bill O’Reilly is a nationally syndicated columnist.