Jewish World Review March 13, 2002 / 29 Adar, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
No exit strategy
THERE'S a predictable pattern to how this sort of
story plays out. First, U. S. Sen. Robert Byrd,
D-W.Va., complains during a congressional hearing
that the Bush administration has no "exit strategy"
and that there is "no end in sight in our mission in
Afghanistan." Next, Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle questions President Bush's likely "continued
success" in the war.
Then, the Republican senators overplay their hand.
They bash Daschle for dissing Bush while American
troops are fighting abroad.
This invites the left to get all huffy about anyone
criticizing Democrats for criticizing the White
House. Daschle acts as if he weren't criticizing
Bush, but just asking questions because "we have a
constitutional obligation to ask these questions."
Editorial pages agree that senators should ask
questions. Demos conclude that they are patriots
when they ask questions, while their critics are
anti-American for questioning their questions.
Sic transit media.
Puh-lease. Daschle was thinking about his obligation
to his presidential aspirations. He didn't pose
questions because he might, say, oppose defense
spending based on a principled disagreement on
U.S.-Afghan policy. He was posing questions
because he didn't have the brass to take on Bush
directly, not when Bush policies are riding high in
the opinion polls.
Daschle asked questions because he knew that if he
told reporters that he had doubts now, and the Bush
effort stumbles later, he can use his vaguely
expressed doubts against Bush in the 2004
Byrd is harder to figure. He's a student of history,
ignoring recent history. He should be aware of
Osama bin Laden's infamous Time magazine
interview, in which bin Laden stated that the U.S.
withdrawal from Somalia made him and his
followers realize "more than before that the
American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few
blows ran in defeat."
I won't question Byrd's patriotism, but I do question
There's also Byrd's odd use of the term "exit
strategy." A week into the squabble, the
Democratic National Committee defended Byrd by
releasing a transcript of a 2000 presidential debate
between Bush and Veep Al Gore. Bush said that
U.S. military missions need "to be clear and the exit
Not that the DNC folks noticed, but Bush was
arguing that America should have an exit strategy
when U.S. troops are fighting someone else's war --
not an army that has attacked American civilians.
"Exit strategy," after all, is a euphemism for defeat.
It's D.C.-speak for when a superpower decides it
has had enough and wants to pick up its marbles
and go home. You don't have an exit strategy when
you are defending your own country. In that case,
there are only two exits: victory or defeat.
As Cliff May of the anti-terrorism think tank,
Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, noted,
"When the battleground is New York City, you
don't think of an 'exit strategy' unless you're thinking
of leaving New York behind."
May added, "In 1941, if anybody had said to
Franklin Roosevelt, 'Hey you're going into Europe,
North Africa and Asia -- what's your exit strategy?,'
he would have tossed them out of the room. He
would have said, 'I don't have an exit strategy. I
have a victory strategy. I'm going to do what it
takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies.' "
Alas, when Bush talks like that, sophisticates
dismiss him as a
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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