By Dick Morris
July 17, 2003
Worried ever since the World Trade Center came crashing down that America would become a citadel of Republicanism as it confronted terrorism at home and abroad, the left has scrambled to distract and divert our national focus.
Having tried to persuade us that our civil liberties were in danger, that we faced massive costs and thousands of deaths in Iraq, that we were alienating the entire world, and that it was the economy rather than terror that merited our attention, they have now, at last, hit upon a question with which to capture the agenda: Did Bush and Tony Blair lie to us about the reasons to go to war?
The question itself is akin to asking when we stopped beating our wives. To even ask it, we must assume that there are no weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq and that reports that Saddam Hussein tried to acquire the means to make nuclear weapons are and were inaccurate. Such an assumption flies in the face of Saddam's conduct from his use of poison gas on the Kurds to his construction of a nuclear power plant so dangerous that Israel had to bomb it to keep Iraq non-nuclear.
But why has the question gained such traction? The administration bears much of the blame for its inept job of presenting the good news that abounds on every side in the aftermath of the Iraq War.
Peace is breaking out all over in the Middle East. Is there anyone who doubts that Israel and the most extreme of Palestinian factions have agreed to a cease fire because, and only because, of a chain of events set in motion by our invasion of Iraq?
Does anyone believe that Israel would take risks for peace if the United States did not have 150,000 troops in Iraq? Can anyone seriously maintain that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Fatah would have agreed to a cease-fire if the United States did not have a robust military presence next door and if our invasion had not dried up their funding from other nations?
In the Clinton White House, there was a constant refusal of foreign policy and national security officials to articulate good news and discuss accomplishments. Don't claim that we have stopped violence in Bosnia, it could break out again. Don't talk about how we have ended the dictatorship in Haiti, Aristide could make us look bad. Don't revel in our success in Ireland, terror could break out again.
One suspects that the same voices of caution are muzzling the Bush administration and stopping it from speaking about the positive accomplishments that are flowing from our bold action in Iraq. Why are we not speaking about the student demonstrations in Iran, doubtless emboldened by the U.S. presence next door? How about North Korea's increased willingness to come to the conference table now that we have shown our military prowess and our willingness to use it?
The ongoing casualties in Iraq are indeed tragic and demonstrate that the path to peace will be long and filled with peril. But we have stopped the torture and the killings that victimized the Iraqi people and have sent a chilling message to those in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria who subsidize and harbor terrorists.
Bush, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld need to speak up and explain to the American people what their sacrifices have wrought. We need to stop the media from marking our invasion a failure and undermining our support for the long battle against terrorism.
Bush will never win another term based on his domestic policy record. Even if the economy recovers in '04, it will be a while before the good vibes filter down to the average voter. His accomplishments in education and in reducing taxes are not sufficient to anchor a case for a second term in an increasingly Democratic nation, driven by the inexorable changes in demographics. His positions on the environment, campaign finance reform, and, despite a deathbed conversion, on healthcare, are not echoed by a majority of Americans.
Bush needs to be seen - correctly
- as the innovative and bold foreign policy leader that he is.
He needs to get out and make the case, or surrender the field
to those who keep pecking away with doubts, misgivings, and fears.
Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. Morris is a political consultant, commentator and best selling author. Look for his newest book, "Power Plays" available now and look for Dick's new book, "Off With Their Heads - Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists In American Politics".
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