Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Time Travelers

[posted by Callimachus]

My consistent criticism of the consistent critics of Bush and his stumblebum administration is that, when they bother to put forth an alternative approach, it usually involves rewinding the clock and doing something different.

Memo to the reality-based: God can do that: You can't.

The latest memo recipient will be Ike Skelton.

"In hindsight, we should have concentrated our efforts on al-Qaida in Afghanistan from the beginning. We missed an important opportunity when Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora (in late 2001)," the HASC chairman said.

"Now, four years later, we find ourselves facing a resurgent al-Qaida while our forces are tied down in Iraq," Skelton said. "As the House voted last week, we must responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq, handing responsibility for security over to the Iraqis and leaving only those forces required for limited missions. This will allow us to concentrate our efforts on Afghanistan and the al-Qaida terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001."

OK, so the new report asserts al Qaida is strong in Iraq and will become a threat to the U.S. homeland. (Many lefties think that word smacks of Hitlerism, but it is convenient in terrorism stories like this to distinguish the territorial U.S. from the U.S. as represented by soldiers, interests, property, and citizens abroad.)

Just a few days ago, if I recall, the netroots and their political and journalistic allies were singing in harmony and damning the administration for too frequent references to "al Qaida in Iraq," and claiming it was a grossly inflated figment of White House imaginations eager to prevent the public from discovering we really were fighting good, honest, homegrown Iraqi patriots opposed to our occupation. Now that "Al Qaida in Iraq" has become a convenient cudgel to beat the administration with, the same voices embrace it.

I guess Skelton saw the same report everyone else is talking about. I guess, too, he saw this report from earlier in the week:

U.S. intelligence officials worry al Qaida's new haven in Pakistan makes it that much easier to execute new attacks on American soil, it was reported Tuesday.

Al Qaida has shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan. It has developed a base in Iraq. Skelton's strategy for fighting al Qaida? Leave Iraq and go to Afghanistan.

Memo to Ike: He's not there anymore. He got away. In 2001. You said so yourself.

Now if you want to yell at George W. Bush about Iraq, be my guest. Tell him how he screwed the pooch every way to Sunday and made us all look like fools. But if you're serious about leading the country, you have to have a better plan than "go back to 2001 and do everything differently."

And even if you could do that, you have to make the case we'd be in a better place. We're in a tough spot now, but it's possible to imagine worse ones. Thanks to the feckless leadership we've had, we find ourselves free of the burden of trying to guess what Saddam is doing, and militarily face-to-face with al Qaida in Iraq. Not the war we were promised. The alternative? Saddam still playing footsie with the U.N. and perhaps working with al Qaida in a way we can't touch.

And either way, you've still got the two problems no one seems to want to tackle: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.