January 19, 2005
GREG DJEREJIAN takes a critical look at Bush's war leadership. Excerpt:
Bush must more effectively communicate to the world audience the nature of his global war on terror. Between a widely (though, it should be noted, not quite as widely as sometimes suggested) supported Afghanistan campaign and the so controversial war in Iraq--America's war on terror lost much support in the court of international opinion. I'm not talking here of the cheap Euro-Gaullist broadsides about Iraq simply consituting a bid for hegemony in the Middle East, or for access to cheap oil (that worked out well, eh?), or simply a dynastic clean up of Poppy's unfinished business. But the reality is, of course, that there exists much misapprehension and confusion about why, for Bush, the war in Iraq has been conflated with the war on terror. Bush must now, as his second term begins, communicate better what he means when he says Iraq is now the "central front" in the war on terror. This is particularly critical in the conspiracy-ridden Middle East.
Read the whole thing, which as always is thoughtful and measured. It's also worth revisiting this critique, written by Austin Bay just after his return from Iraq:
If there is one mistake I think we've made in fighting this war, it's been the way we've soft-pedaled the ideological dimensions. This really is a fight for the future, between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and Islamo-fascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty.
Iraq -- long plundered by despotism -- should be a wealthy country. It has water, an agricultural base, a source of capital (oil) and people willing to work. It is the best place to begin to reform the dysfunctional political systems that shackle and rob the vast the majority of Middle Easterners. The lesson of 9-11, three years on, is that liberty must sustain a focused offensive if it is to survive.
We should be hearing more like this from the Bush Administration.