In his column “They’re just a bunch of pansies,” Trevor Sides complains of Harry Reid’s defeatism over the war in Iraq and claims that the Democratic Party is the party of “defeat, softness, utter senselessness, complete hopelessness and knee-knocking spinelessness.” Sides then goes on to conflate the war in Iraq with the “War on Terror,” substituting one for the other whenever it is convenient. This is a familiar trick, and it has cost our country dearly.
Reid said that the war in Iraq was “lost.” He said nothing about the War on Terror, but Sides takes him to mean that the Democratic Party is surrendering on both fronts. The War on Terror, however, cannot be won or lost because it is not a real war. The war in Iraq is a real war, and in terms of our original objective of establishing a Shining Beacon of Democracy, it was lost a long time ago. The War on Terror is a metaphor, and it is very dangerous to paint all of our enemies with the “terrorist” brush and then pretend that they are the same. Sides demonstrates this technique with his claim that Muqtada al-Sadr is “Iraq’s al-Qaeda leader.” Al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization; al-Sadr is a Shiite cleric. The fact that they both promote terrorism and both oppose America, however, gives Sides (and most of the neo-conservative Right) little reason to distinguish between the two.
The War on Terror has clouded our rationality. Sad though it may be, the most realistic goal in Iraq now is to mitigate our defeat and hopefully stop things from getting even worse.