July 30, 2007 | National Review Online

Symposium: Turning Point?

Yes, Virginia, there are some rational, reasoning liberals. Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack have long been among them. They are serious students of national security. They are Democrats but not hyper-partisans. They are not so willfully self-deluded as to believe that America’s defeat in Iraq would be a problem only for President Bush and those pesky neocons. They understand that America’s defeat in Iraq — at the hands of al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias — would be hugely consequential for America.

What O’Hanlon and Pollack conclude — “There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008” — is not exactly breaking news to those who read NRO, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages. It is not news to anyone who has been carefully following developments in Iraq since Gen. David Petraeus was confirmed as the American commander in that theater.

But most Americans have heard only the drumbeat of the antiwar Left. The Left has been banging out the message that the Petraeus mission has failed — since before the Petraeus mission was fully underway. And most of the mainstream media have been unwilling even to suggest an alternative narrative. (A notable exception is the Times’ own John Burns, a reporter who is apparently not read by Times editorial writers.)

So the O’Hanlon/Pollack op-ed is important. It forces the conversation to re-open. Even such media outlets as CNN now have to discuss the possibility that the war in Iraq might yet be won. That may at least give pause to rattled Republicans as well as to rational, reasoning Democrats.

Yes, Virginia, there are such Democrats.

– Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies , a policy institute focusing on terrorism.


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