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Fixating on the past

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By John Barnhart

I wonder what sort of calenders the folks out on political far left use? Last week's The Liberal Agenda made me wonder if Rick Howell thinks it's still 2007.

Mr. Howell tried to convince us that the troop surge in Iraq isn't working, even though everybody else is saying otherwise. Even "Democratic" leaders in Congress have gotten quiet about the surge and "Democratic" presidential candidates have moved on to other issues.

Whether or not the surge would accomplish anything was still open to question last summer. The troop surge had just reached full strength.

Since then the surge, plus a shift in strategy, has changed the situation on the ground in our favor. Iraqi Sunni Arabs, sickened by the brutality of the foreign jihadists that Al Qaida brought in, have sided with us in the effort to get rid of them. Shia Arabs, such as Moqtada al Sadr, in turn, have less reason to fight. Sunni extremists would just as soon kill Iraqi Shias as Americans and changes in the past several months have lessened that threat.

Of course, there can be quite a gap between "winning" and "won," and simply winning does not mean it's time to leave. Imagine what would happen in next month's Super Bowl if one of the teams decided, a few minutes into the third quarter, to leave and go home because they were ahead.

Now, it's no longer 2007. According to the calendar I have, it's January, 2008. Debate about the surge is history and, as we are teetering on the brink of a recession, the economy has become the primary focus in the presidential primary contests.

Then, there's the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Yes. Mr. Howell, we know that no such weapons, or the facilities to make them, were found after we invaded Iraq. That was news four years ago. The fact that this is 2008, not 2004, means that George W. Bush will not be up for reelection. A couple of the contenders for the Republican nomination have been critics of Bush administration foreign policy. A Republican victory in the presidential election does not mean a continuation of President Bush's less-than-brilliant foreign policy.

Perhaps Mr. Howell, like much of America's left, is still fixated with the late '60s. A commentary in "The Economist," the first edition for January, 2008, questioned whether America can escape 1968 and noted that that was the year when the "Democratic" Party marginalized itself by getting involved in cultural wars.

Maybe this is why Mr. Howell, along with his fellow leftists, is so exited about the anti-war rally that he plans to participate in in March. After all, he missed the big Vietnam war protests in the late '60s. He was still in elementary school in 1968, so he would have been a bit young. I began my sophomore year in high school that fall and the war, for me, was still something far away. The big campus protests of the era were just something I saw on the TV evening news, or read about in the newspaper.

I am sure, however, that the rallies Mr. Howell participates in have as much in common with the big protests of 40 years ago as a Civil War reenactment has in common with the actual war. Of course, the Civil War reenactors know that they aren't fighting a real battle while the lefties gathering in Washington actually think they are accomplishing something. The Vietnam War was different. The war not only had no end in sight, but young men were being drafted to provide the manpower to fight it. The manpower needs were substantial. We had approximately half-a-million men in Vietnam during the war's height, far above our current troop level in Iraq. The fighting during the six months of 1968 claimed more American lives than five years of fighting in Iraq.

But, that's history too and Mr. Howell, and his fellow leftists, will be exercising a right enshrined in the First Amendment when he goes to that rally. I hope the weather is nice and I hope he has fun.