Saturday, April 28, 2007

Buckley, Jr.: The War is Lost

The White House (joined, as always, by its friends at Fox) has been scathing in its responses to Senator Harry Reid's observation that "the war is lost." I wonder how the President and Mr. Cheney will respond to essentially the same observation from the pen of a man whose name is a byword for conservatism, William F. Buckley, Jr.?

In fairness, Buckley doesn't -- quite -- say the war is lost. Instead, he compares it unfavorably to Viet Nam, in which the enemy at least had a headquarters. And he seems to assume that we will remember that despite this tactical advantage, things didn't go well for us in Nam. (This nuance may be lost on Bush and Cheney, neither of whom had any personal experience of that war. Had they been replaced, at any stage, by combat verterans like Messrs. Gore, Kerry, Kerrey, McCain, Murtha or Hagel, we might not be quite so far into the Big Muddy by now).

Buckley also compares Iraq to Prohibition -- a effort to achieve by governmental force a goal to which the people were obstinately opposed. And most disturbingly, he talks about Christianity and the Roman Empire, when "The generation of Christians moved by their faith overwhelmed the regimented reserves of the Roman state." That's right: in his analogy, we're the Romans and our opponents are the Christians. Making the current President either Tiberius or Caligula, I'm not sure which.

In truth, Buckley's comments -- made quite briefly, in a consideration of the new book by George Tenet -- are more forceful than anything Senator Reid or Representative Pelosi have said so far. We hope the Administration will also note that they are far more damning.

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