Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2005 / 22 Shevat, 5765

Thomas Sowell

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Victory and Defeat

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The defeatists have been defeated.

Remember all the political outcries that the Iraqi elections should be postponed because it would be impossible to hold elections with terrorism rampant throughout the country?

Fortunately, most Iraqis do not see the American media, with its distorted picture of their country, so they went to the polls — with a higher turnout than in our own elections last November. Over here we worry about whether falling snow will reduce turnout. But the Iraqis braved threats of death in order to take control of Iraq.

First and foremost, it was a great victory for the Iraqi people. It was also a great victory for the magnetic appeal of freedom, even in a country that has so long been denied it. What some of our own politicians and media pundits are obviously afraid of is that it will also be seen as a victory for President Bush.

In the eyes of some people, nothing that the Bush administration does can be right. If the President were to create a program that would end earthquakes and tsunamis tomorrow, critics would demand to know why he is allowing wildfires and lightning to continue killing people.

The defeatists who have been defeated are already saying that the election is "just the first step" toward democracy. Every step is just one step. Invading Normandy was just one step, the battle of Midway was just one step. But, without those steps, World War II might not have been won.

Senator John Kerry loudly proclaimed on "Meet the Press" that the Iraqi election represented President Bush's "last chance" to "get it right." Nothing is easier than to demand more from somebody else — even when you yourself have been an obstacle to achieving what has already been achieved.

Senator Kerry has a long record as a defeatist and obstructionist. Back in 1971, he said, "we cannot fight communism all over the world" — adding in the same arrogant tone he uses today, "I think we should have learned that lesson by now."

Ronald Reagan never learned that lesson — and hundreds of millions of human beings are free of communist tyranny today as a result. But during all the years when President Reagan was building up our military forces and our intelligence agencies, Senator Kerry was consistently voting against the appropriations required to do so.

What both men were doing was consistent with their respective assumptions and goals. Senator Kerry was just one of the defeatist elitists who regarded the communist bloc as a "fact of life" which we could only accept and which it was futile to waste resources opposing.

They imagined themselves to be so much wiser than other people that condescension was only natural, as they brushed aside any other viewpoint with such dismissive words as "cowboy" or even "stupid." The fact that events proved the defeatist elitists dead wrong in the Cold War — and now again in the Iraqi elections — has not yet broken through their smugness.

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Probably nothing ever will. But that does not mean that the rest of us need to keep taking their high opinion of themselves seriously.

Senator Kerry has been a defeatist in another way. He has been quick to throw to the wolves foreign allies who have been depicted as mere accomplices in America's futile efforts. People like Senator Kerry not only pushed for our withdrawal from Vietnam but for our cutting off all aid to the South Vietnamese government that was resisting the North Vietnamese Communists — who were backed by aid from the Communist bloc.

During the current struggle for Iraq, Senator Kerry has called Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi a "puppet" — once more giving aid and comfort to the enemy by undermining an ally, in this case a man who is putting his life on the line in a country where terrorist assassinations have become a way of life.

Senator Kerry's long years of defeatism, obstructionism and abetting our enemies have been largely overlooked by the mainstream media. But much of that media has been doing the same thing. The courage of the Iraqis should shame the defeatists — if they had any shame.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) To comment please click here.

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