Don’t Bail, Prevail
IT SEEMS THERE ARE NEARLY AS MANY proposals to withdraw troops from Iraq as there are U.S. Senators who oppose the war itself. The only thing less edifying than the Bush Administration’s ham-fisted approach for managing the war is the belief by the great minds in Washington that a recycled Baker-Hamilton pullout will improve matters. It will almost certainly do the opposite.
The proposers are more focused on the political situation in Washington. Amid vague calls for a diplomatic offensive to stabilize Iraq by “engaging” Syria and Iran, the very parties that feel most threatened by the prospect of democracy on their doorstep and will talk to us only to hasten our flight, there is an unwillingness to recognize that, like it or not, the U.S. will need to maintain a significant presence on the ground to fight al Qaeda and go after terrorists.
The civil war that will follow a precipitous withdrawal will be the least of our worries. A U.S. that fails in Iraq will be unable to thwart an Iranian bomb, prevent Syria from crushing democracy in Lebanon, stop attacks on Israel, or prevent increased funding and sanctuary for global terrorism.
With a media obsessed with Abu Ghraib and GuantÃ¡namo, and which has shown scant interest in the horrific nature of the Islamists in Iraq or the courageous efforts of many Iraqis to stop them, it is no wonder that we lose sight of important breakthroughs. An elected government remains in power, under a constitution far more liberal than any other in the Arab Middle East. In the greater region Libya following the war, gave up its advanced arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And then there are the Iraqis themselves, a majority of whom despite the efforts of Iran, Syria, and Sunni extremists, still prefer the chaotic and dangerous present to the barbarism of their recent Saddamite past.
Critics have called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, a change in command in Iraq, and a new strategy on the ground. They have all three.
General Petraeus was promised a fair hearing in September. It would be folly at this stage to give in to defeatism and despair. Given that China and Russia only see oil and petrodollars, we can expect no help from them. If the U.S. leaves the spillover from terrorism is far more likely to impact Europe than the U.S., but don’t expect help from that quarter. The Islamo-fascists believe we cannot prevail. It is up to those who seek to lead this country going forward to ensure that they are wrong.
Energizer Bunny Economy
IF IRAQ IS PRESIDENT BUSH’S THORN is the economy his rose? One wouldn’t think so from general reports. Judging from the public debate one would think we are on the verge of depression, yet the indicators in the U.S. and around the globe show a startling resiliency.
The world economy is growing at 4.7 percent according to the IMF, slightly less than last year but in line with 2005. And even though deceleration is expected in 2008 the benefits of world expansion continue at a level significantly above the historical trend of 3 percent.
The Commerce Department reported that U.S. corporate profits have increased 21.3 percent in the past year and now account for the largest share of national income in 40 years. Both NYSE and Nasdaq composite indexes are higher today than their year ago levels. The Dow Jones industrial average finished in record territory for the fourth straight session and surpassed the 14,000 mark for the first time ever on a tame inflation reading and several strong earnings reports. So far, new U.S. home sales are bearing the brunt of the recent subprime mortgage blues but according to Bank Julius Baer no overall credit crunch is expected. Current cyclical status of major economies suggests “a rather robust economic environment ahead.”