David Ignatius: Democracy Would Be Fine If We Could Just Ignore the People
In one of those WaPo op-eds that make me want to tear out my hair over the sheer dimwittedness of the mainstream media, David Ignatius today argues that the inevitable US withdrawal from Iraq will be managed effectively only if Democrats in Congress stop their partisan agitating and instead cooperate with the Bush administration on the planning process.
Thus Ignatius effectively ignores the three central facts of the entire situation, which are (1) that the Bush administration is not planning for a withdrawal from Iraq, (2) that the Bush administration has consistently mocked the very notion of "cooperating" with Democrats over anything, and (3) that, if not for partisan agitating by Democrats, the idea of withdrawal from Iraq wouldn't even be on the national agenda.
So much, so obvious. But I want to focus on a few sentences buried in the middle of Ignatius's article, in which he bemoans the underlying reason for America's travails in Iraq:
Future military planners will have to recognize that American democracy, in which political mandates must be renewed in two-year increments, makes us uniquely unsuited to fight protracted counterinsurgency wars. Petraeus likes to observe that it takes, on average, at least nine years to prevail in such a war. If that measure is correct, Petraeus must know there is little chance that a frustrated and angry American public will grant him enough time for success.In context, Ignatius sounds positively regretful that Americans have so little stomach for "protracted counterinsurgency wars": "We go to war with the democracy we've got," he writes, "with all its intrinsic impatience." But my reaction is: Thank God!
The fact that Americans don't much care for the idea of being in the position of imperial occupiers, trying to impose order on the citizens of a distant country who don't want us there, is a very healthy sign. It means that most of us still have some memory, however faint, of the historic role America is supposed to play in the world: a model and promoter of independence, democracy, and self-rule, not the enforcer of military control over the dark-skinned hordes.
The instincts of the masses of people whom the Beltway elite scorn aren't always correct. But they tend, in the long run, to be rather sound. Which is one reason why I still favor free elections and the Constitution over rule by Yoo's "unitary executive" and Rove's "permanent Republican majority," from which God defend us.