Again, the question now is an existential one: Can the United States — or anyone — in the middle of a war against Islamic fascism, rebuild the most important country in the heart of the Middle East, after 30 years of utter oppression, three wars, and an Orwellian, totalitarian dictator warping of the minds of the populace? And can anyone navigate between a Zarqawi, a Sadr, and the Sunni rejectionists, much less the legions of Iranian agents, Saudi millionaires, and Syrian provocateurs who each day live to destroy what’s going on in Iraq?Jonah Goldberg sums up the port-mania:
The fate of a much wider war hinges on the answers to these questions, since it would be hard to imagine that bin Laden could continue be much of a force with a secure and democratic Iraq, anchoring ongoing liberalization in the Gulf, Lebanon, and Egypt, and threatening by example Iran and Syria. By the same token, it would be hard to see how we could stop jihadism from spreading when an army that is doing everything possible still could not stop Islamic fascism from taking over the ancestral home of the ancient caliphate.
Can-do Americans courageously go about their duty in Iraq — mostly unafraid that a culture of 2,000 years, the reality of geography, the sheer forces of language and religion, the propaganda of the state-run Arab media, and the cynicism of the liberal West are all stacked against them. Iraq may not have started out as the pivotal front in the war between democracy and fascism, but it has surely evolved into that. After visiting the country, I think we can and will win, but just as importantly, unlike in 2003-4, there does not seem to be much of anything we should be doing there that in fact we are not.
In response, Republicans and Democrats alike have gone batty.
For five years, Republicans have chanted "trust the president" on national security. They even won elections on the issue. For nearly five years, Democrats have said President Bush should use more carrots and fewer sticks in his diplomacy in the Muslim world. They argued that we need to reward our allies with trade and trust (except when we actually did it in places such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). Liberals lectured that equating "Muslim" or "Arab" and "terrorist" is not only bigoted but counterproductive, in that it will feed the "root causes" of terrorism.
But suddenly, virtually all leading Republicans and Democrats — with the laudable exception of Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) — now argue that Bush can't be trusted on national security, that our Arab ally the UAE should go suck eggs, and that racial profiling of foreign firms is just fine. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) now even thinks Halliburton should run the ports. And Jimmy Carter is backing the White House.
At this rate, Barbra Streisand will soon be holding benefit concerts for Pennsylvania's conservative Sen. Rick Santorum.