Odds & Ends From the Week

I realize not everyone believes the wisdom of the world is captured in country western lyrics. Nonetheless, Instapundit links to DaveShearon who sees that current hit reinforcing Winston Churchill’s rugged & tenacious vision.

If you’re going through hell

Keep on going, Don’t slow down

If you’re scared, don’t show it

You might get out.

Before the devil even knows you’re there.

This may be optimism, but its steely optimism, arising from a relatively tragic but activist point of view. Of course, that’s the difference between optimism & sentimentality – toughness, energy & some irony.

This was the tone of Bush’s press conference this week. Permeated with a sense of the grim times ahead, his position doesn’t seem that dramatically different from earlier remarks. Still, some see this as the beginning of the end of the denial they believe he has been laboring under. It certainly put front & center an acknowledgement of mistakes & problems. It seemed no less resolute, however.

His lengthy introduction acknowledged:

It’s my responsibility to provide the American people a candid assessment on the way forward. There is tough fighting ahead. The road to victory will not be easy. We should not expect a simple solution. The fact that the fighting is tough does not mean our efforts in Iraq are not worth it. To the contrary; the consequences in Iraq will have a decisive impact on the security of our country, because defeating the terrorists in Iraq is essential to turning back the cause of extremism in the Middle East. If we do not defeat the terrorists or extremists in Iraq, they will gain access to vast oil reserves, and use Iraq as a base to overthrow moderate governments across the broader Middle East. They will launch new attacks on America from this new safe haven. They will pursue their goal of a radical Islamic empire that stretches from Spain to Indonesia.

I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I’m not satisfied, either. And that is why we’re taking new steps to help secure Baghdad, and constantly adjusting our tactics across the country to meet the changing threat. But we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war. We must not look at every success of the enemy as a mistake on our part, cause for an investigation, or a reason to call for our troops to come home. We must not fall prey to the sophisticated propaganda by the enemy, who is trying to undermine our confidence and make us believe that our presence in Iraq is the cause of all its problems

Churchill may be in the back of other’s memories as well. Barone describes his lunch with Bush last week (that Barone gets around – what with lunching with Lex & then the president). He asked Bush what he is currently reading:

Roberts’s English-Speaking Peoples [which] is an extension of Churchill’s multicentury history that ends around 1900, and I expect that it will take Churchill’s view: that the English-speaking peoples have over the centuries taken up the responsibility of expanding freedom and spreading democracy and the rule of law around the world.

That is Bush’s view as well, as I was reminded when I noticed the bust of Churchill as I was leaving the Oval Office.

In his daily net column, href=”http://opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110009148″>Taranto excerpts from a soldier’s e-mail to him. He is certainly “not satisfied” with the situation in Iraq, but his response is muscular:

We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we’re backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that’s fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we’re going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.

. . .

At the same time, failure in Iraq would be worse than a dozen Somalias, and would render us as impotent and emasculated as we were in the days after Vietnam.


Rodney Atkins.