It’s time to move past Iraq fin­ger-point­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

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.

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