On the second anniversary of the savage 9/11 attack on the United States, two years in which our president has produced two spectacular military victories, I’m alarmed at the perceptions of failure being promoted by Democrats and mainstream media.

In his address a few nights ago, President Bush reminded us that this war on terrorism will be long and hard fought. And he outlined for us a strategy that focuses on fighting this war not on American soil but on battlegrounds of our choosing. In a strategy characterized by columnist Andrew Sullivan as the “flypaper” strategy, President Bush has developed a rather elegant strategic situation in which the radical Mideast terrorists, and the states that support them, must focus their efforts on driving us out of Iraq. They cannot stand the prospect of a democratic nation in their midst. So as they infiltrate to terrorize Iraqis and obstruct the reconstruction of Iraq, we engage and kill them. If they stop coming, we win. If they keep coming, we kill them, and eventually we still win. And none of this is happening on U.S. soil or among U.S. civilians.

The reconstruction and democratization of Iraq is proceeding, although you won’t find the successes reported in the mainstream media. Instead the media focuses on the rantings of the nine Democrat presidential pretenders who, like the terrorists, cannot stand the prospect of American success in Iraq. They would rather put the UN in charge, virtually assuring non-victory. (Korean War, anyone? Or how about Gulf War?) And we hear the complaints from Europeans who cannot stand being proven wrong. Or duplicitous. (Do we really want the French involved? Wasn’t their last military victory under Napoleon, who wasn’t even French?) And we hear carping from the previous administration who can’t stand having their own miserable failures against terrorism brought to light before a thinking public. Columnist William Safire characterizes these hand-wringing critics as “failuremongers,” which may be too kind a term.

Vietnam is the analogy of choice for the president’s critics. They try to create the perception of a costly and demoralizing “quagmire” in Iraq. When one reads the other side of the story, encouraging reports of success from Iraq, one quickly sees that President Bush is on the right track. The idea of a quagmire is a bit of a stretch, unless one imagines that quagmire applying to the terrorists – and the Democrats.

”’Robert R. Kessler is a resident of Waikiki.”’

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