A Hang-Tough Nation
No escape. Our resolve to fight those responsible for terrorism must be no less than the resolve that we have shown during previous conflicts, and we must make the same kind of accommodations in our way of life that we have made in times past. In short, the American people and its leaders must prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for what is certain to be a long struggle. It is not as if we are without wayposts of success. Afghanistan, Kuwait, and now Lebanon are all the beneficiaries of American resolve.
President Bush has a proper grasp of the nature of the challenge we face. "There's always a temptation in the middle of a long struggle to seek the quiet life," he said recently, "to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. . . . But it's not the world we live in."
The president did well to speak forcefully, but his administration has hardly excelled in presenting a steady, coherent case for staying the course in Iraq. For instance, the demoralizing impression has been allowed to ferment that there is only one combat-ready unit of Iraqi troops. In fact, according to Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, an outstanding commander who has been in charge of training Iraqi troops, Iraq now has 80 battalions capable of fighting alongside our forces and another 35 that fight with American soldiers embedded in their units. The Iraqi troops showed what they could do at Tal Afar, where a Sunni Arab defense minister, Saadoun Dulaimi, challenged the insurgents. Given that there was virtually a nonexistent Iraqi military force 18 months ago, having 115 units engaged in the battle is a measure of real progress. So is the evolution of Iraqi democracy--witness the recent negotiations among the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds that led to last week's elections.
One definition of American genius is lasting five minutes longer than the other side. This is no time to abandon that time-tested virtue.