The rising violence in the Middle East has apparently caused the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal to rethink its understanding of the war in Iraq. They write today:
Critics of the Bush Administration will surely find a way to blame it for the current crisis, on the theory that this is what happens when you push for change in the Middle East. But the real problem is the growing perception among Arab regimes and terrorist frontmen that the U.S. is so bogged down in Iraq, and so suddenly deferential to the wishes of the “international community,” that it has lost its appetite for serious reform. This has created openings for the kind of terror assaults on American allies we are now witnessing.
Despite trying to cast their stance as one that “critics of the Bush Administration” would dispute, the position that the WSJ editors take today is one that “critics” have been arguing for some time. American Progress’s Iraq strategy, Strategic Redeployment 2.0, explicitly states that, “As long as the United States is bogged down in Iraq and refuses to admit the thousands of mistakes it has made, it will not have the moral, political, and military power to deal effectively” with the threats it faces.
Sen. Chuck Hagel argued in Aug. 2005, “I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur,” adding, “We are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar or dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam.”
The political class and media treat the war as something whose “policy” details can somehow be revisited, even rethought. At home, the war is a political event, a normal partisan phenomenon. Its metaphors are borne out of Vietnam — quagmire, bogged down, body counts, Ted Kennedy. Guess what? Vietnam isn’t coming back. The people of this country tore the nation’s fabric terribly over Vietnam. They are not going to do it again. [Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 4/30/04]
Being “bogged down” in Iraq has had damaging consequences in the Middle East due to the disastrous choices the administration made. The WSJ finally seems to understand that. Better late than never.