Without disagreeing too much with Baker, I think its important to keep in mind several things:
First, we have not had an attack on this country since 9/11. That is the bottom line, and I think it counts for something.
Second, historical forces have been set in motion that may take decades to work through. Bush never said it would be quick and easy. In fact, he repeatedly has emphasized the opposite and taken pains to say how difficult it would be. If we, the American people, are not prepared to sacrifice the necessary blood, sweat and tears to win this war and accomplish a democratic transformation in the middle east, then whatever leadership we have in the White House will be inadequate for the task.
Bush did not create the problem. It was here for decades before him; and it will be here when he leaves office. The American public is in crisis because it cannot decide if it wants to deal yet with the problem. That powerful ambivalence is what has been holding Bush back, and it will sap the will and limit the options of any elected leader who replaces him. Bush at least has the moral courage and the vision to understand what must be done, and I give him credit for that. If he lacks the will--well, who can blame him? In that, apparently he is no different from the majority of Americans right now.
Bush would do well to consider Baker's critique carefully. But then, so would about 60% of the American people. The world is indeed a scary place when America is weak and lacks self-confidence. Bush may not be much, but I beleive the alternatives availble would only make things much scarier.
Finally, in the immortal words of the great Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over."
UPDATE: SC&A have further thoughts on Baker's piece.
UPDATE II: Victor Davis Hanson believes all is not lost:
In an amorphous war of self-induced Western restraint, like the present one, truth and moral clarity are as important as military force. This past month, the world of the fascist jihadist and those who tolerate him was once again on display for civilization to fathom. Even the most timid and prone to appeasement in the West are beginning to see that it is becoming a question of “the Islamists or us.”
In this eleventh hour, that is a sort of progress after all.
I would agree.
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