Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Defeatist

Donal Kagan: Today's Defeatists:

The results of the recent change in leadership and strategy in Iraq have made it plain that the war there is not lost nor is defeat inevitable. And yet, the war’s opponents, even as the situation improves, have rushed to declare America defeated. They offer no plausible alternative to the current strategy and take no serious notice of the dreadful consequences of swift withdrawal. They seem to be panicked by the possibility of success and eager to bring about withdrawal and defeat before events make it too late.

And a historical analogy... the Civil War:
In 1864 Lincoln changed generals, and undertook a more aggressive strategy, but the war continued to drag on. A hostile newspaper, wrote, “that perhaps it is time to agree to a peace without victory.” Like Pericles, Lincoln was assailed by attacks on his policies and by personal vituperation. At the Democratic convention in August 1864 a speaker told a crowd in the streets that Lincoln and the Union armies had ‘‘Failed! Failed!! FAILED!!! FAILED!!!!” The loss of life ‘has never been seen since the destruction of Sennacherib by the breath of the Almighty and still the monster usurper wants more men for his slaughter pens.”

The Democratic convention was dominated by the anti-war faction whom the Republicans called “Copperheads,” after the poisonous snake. According to their best historian, they were “consistent and constant in their demand for an immediate peace settlement. At times they were willing to trade victory for peace. One persistent problem for [them] was their refusal or reluctance to offer a realistic and comprehensive plan for peace.” Pressed by the Copperheads, the Democrats nominated a rabidly antiwar candidate for vice president and adopted a platform that called the war a “failure,” and demanded “immediate efforts” to end hostilities….” Their platform statement would permit abandonment not only of emancipation, but of the most basic war aim, reunion. Even New York’s Republican Party boss declared that Lincoln’s reelection was widely regarded as an “impossibility…The People [were] wild for Peace.” At the end of August defeat for the Republicans and the Union cause seemed inevitable, but Lincoln refused to seek peace without victory, saying that he was not prepared, to “give up the Union for a peace which, so achieved, could not be of much duration.”

No one would have predicted that within a matter of months the war would end with a total victory for the Union forces, slavery abolished and the Union restored, but events took an unexpected turn. A series of Union military victories changed the course of the war. The Democrats, having declared or predicted defeat were, as one historian has written: “Tarred as traitors, regardless of their actual positions on the war, Democrats were … roundly thrashed in November. In fact, the stench of treason clung to the Democrats for years; nearly a generation would pass before another Democrat, Grover Cleveland, occupied the White House.”

Sound familiar? Many of these allegations of military "failure" have been repeatedly uttered by the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

History has already been doomed to repeat itself.

Let us hope the Iraqi Civil War turns out as ours did - with hope, reconstruction, and peace.

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