Jessica Mathews gets it blindingly right in her Post op-ed today. Losing the "hearts and minds" battle isn't important because it undermines our long-term ability to change the face of the region, blah blah blah. It's important because everyday more Iraqis think we are a cruel invader who needs to be violently destroyed. How long Bush will continue living in the fantasy that he can play "with us or against us" with angry, armed, unemployed Baghdad slumdwellers who haven't had reliable power for a year and are more than a little inclined to assume the very worst about the US?

While I agree with Matthew Yglesias that Kerry is very likely to get his ass kicked in the debates, this is one point he can win. If Bush starts to do happy-talk about Iraq, Kerry must be tough and uncompromising about what a distortion this is. As I've said before, Bush is pushing the envelope of Americans' tolerance for altruism towards other countries. When Bush tries to confuse the issue and downplay the costs, Kerry needs to be clear about exactly what has been lost in Iraq, AND make sure he separates that from the broader War on Terror. Say it over and over: 200 billion, 1000 soldiers, no WMDs, no connection to Osama bin Laden, world hates us. If that litany doesn't eventually trump Bush's "The gift of liberty is a gift that keeps on giving!" argument, nothing can.


Post a Comment

<< Home