General Wes Clark's recent Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal:
A Judgment on Iraq (EXCERPT from Securing America )
- By Wesley K. Clark
… The truth is that Democrats are as patriotic as Republicans, want a strong and secure America, and like every other American, want to trust the president and his team on national security issues. And perhaps, being in Washington, associating with the administration and lawmakers of the other party, it’s been more difficult for elected Democrats to sense the mounting rage in much of the electorate over the failures of President Bush’s policies, and especially the seemingly never-ending war in Iraq, and his blatant partisanship.
…The public doesn’t have to live with the reminders of old sentiments, jingoistic pronouncements, or votes in the House or Senate. Instead, the public is free to observe, listen and judge. And that judgment has been passed, especially on Iraq: The war was a mistake. Flawed intelligence, overly optimistic planning (or in some cases, none at all) and grandiose geostrategic designs, hyperinflated rhetoric about democracy, and perhaps raw political advantage. Whatever. The public hasn’t quite sorted it out—but they know a failure when they see one. And Iraq, as well as the larger Middle East policy, is such a failure.
Iraq isn’t Vietnam. America can’t just walk away without horrendous consequences. But “stay the course” isn’t a strategy. And the longer the bleeding goes on there, the harder the electorate will dig for answers—and the tougher they’ll be on those who got us in, and aided, abetted and apologized for them.
…The Republicans will suggest that Democrats aren’t up to it. They’ll play the terrorist-threat card, hope for a few more messages of bin Laden, and ask whether an antiwar party can be trusted to keep America safe. But this is just the spin. The truth is the Democratic Party—elected leaders, party regulars and the big-time donors—pretty much agree on the failures of the administration, and even on the policies that need to be adopted, like stronger diplomacy and more reliance on allies and international organizations, coupled with a willingness to fully fund, rearm, strengthen and use America’s armed forces… Now Democrats have to be able to stand toe-to-toe against Republicans and their failing policies on national security.
…the growing public awareness provides Democrats the opportunity to reshape our party to help America meet the challenges ahead. For Republicans, it signals the end of using patriotism to cover up for persistent failures to deal effectively with pressing national security issues.