The transformation of the Middle East plods on, no thanks to the irresponsible opposition in this country, the leading political party of which calibrates its every move based on its anticipated damage to the credibility of the Commander in Chief. In fairness, President Bush hasn’t helped himself much lately, having been remiss in his communications efforts to counteract this drumbeat over the past several months. Recently, however, there have been at least two major and successful attempts to rectify this omission. One was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s trip to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where she laid the Bush Doctrine on the line about as well as has been done and reminded their rulers that the administration is dead serious about democratization of the region—all of it, including those regimes ruled by long-standing autocrats some consider exempt from such pressures. With phrases like “America will no longer pursue stability at the expense of democracy” and “it is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy”, and with meetings with the political opposition in Egypt, she plowed ground that no American Secretary of State in memory has trod (and probably gave apoplexy to many of the career bureaucrats in Foggy Bottom!). This is important dialogue, vital in keeping the pressure on these regimes, not lost on those in Syria and Iran who might otherwise have reason to doubt our sincerity, and as big a part of the war on Islamofascism as the military campaign in Iraq.
As for the President on the home front, at Fort Bragg he delivered one of his best speeches since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq, probably long overdue, not flashy as usual, but one that should have restored confidence in the troops as well as the fickle body politic in his unwavering commitment to finish the job and the necessity of doing so. As usual, the “disloyal opposition” made every attempt to discredit its effectiveness, with snide comments about his linkage of 9-11 with the war in Iraq, but this worn out sniping has lost resonance with all but the loony left and Howard Dean, and I believe that, public opinion polls notwithstanding, reasonable people are becoming even more convinced that, despite the absence of WMD to date and a number of tactical mistakes in execution, Iraq was and is one necessary front among many in this war. No victory, no peace.