"Panic"

One of the now recurrent memes on the dead-ender right is the conflation of all opposing arguments on the war as "hysteria," "insanity" or "panic." Thus, NRO decribes those Republican lawmakers worried about the Bush administration breaking the US military for political cover as merely concerned about their own re-election or simply prone to panic. Thus Bill Kristol describes those who disagree with the current conduct of a war as "insane" and "irrational." Critics of the worst president since Carter are literally "deranged." Well, of course we are, aren't we? No sane person could possibly conclude that the last four years in Iraq have been a disaster, could they?

There, of course, is nothing panicky at all about trying to foresee major problems next spring when the military reaches a final breaking point and we have no strategy for drawdown. It is something called prudence, a virtue apparently conflated with cowardice in the fevered guts of Cheney and Bush. It is panicky to shriek assertions that the surge is working (when the evidence just isn't there), that we need no other strategy in the foreseeable future, that the benchmarks we were promised as objective criteria for assessing the surge's success are now irrelevant, and so on. The American people are neither stupid nor cowards. Their patience with this war has been astonishing. They have endured it for almost as long as the Second World War, spent billions of their own money on it, lost over 3,000 lives and tens of thousands of serious casualties, re-elected the president who waged it, and have provided him with any resources he asked for. It is not panicky at the end of four years of that, when the situation is clearly worse than the day after we invaded, when we have presided over a moral and strategic catastrophe, and when we are becoming a pawn in an ancient sectarian civil war that has no foreseeable end, that we decide to cut our losses and move to less maximal goals.

Richard Lugar, moreover, is a very difficult man to describe as an hysteric. Domenici likewise. That the neocon chorus is now attacking these pillars of the Republican establishment is a sign of neocon panic, and no one else's. Their day is over. Someone else's is about to begin. But like all fanatics, they will not go easily.