Wretchard at Belmont Club summarizes the state of world as of yesterday, and what is necessary to combat it:
The seizure of 200 schoolchildren and their parents in Russia, for a total of perhaps 400, presumably by Chechen terrorists . . . 12 Nepalis executed in Iraq; 2 French journalists held hostage in Iraq; 16 killed in twin bus bombing attacks in Israel; 10 dead in a bombing attack on a Moscow subway. . . .
In many ways, the Russian policy is exactly the reverse of the American. They are less squeamish about retaliating but lack the Bush doctrine of creating functioning democracies to replace the chaotic sinkholes of Islamism. . . .
[I]t has become apparent that terrorism is . . . an effluent, which if unchecked will poison the whole world. No cologne, not even French perfume, will long prevail against it. Civilization cannot hang back but must step forward . . .
Liberals, Democrats and critical conservatives may question whether President Bush's "forward strategy for freedom" has been carried out well or botched; but its conceptual rightness is indisputable and its undertaking long overdue.
In that connection, it is worth reading the full "we can’t win it" exchange earlier this week between President Bush and Matt Lauer :
Lauer: You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?
President Bush: I have never said we can win it in four years.
Lauer: So I’m just saying can we win it? Do you see that?
President Bush: I don't think you can "win it." But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world -- let's put it that way. I have a two pronged strategy.
On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us, and that's necessary. I’m telling you it's necessary. The country must never yield, must never show weakness [and] must continue to lead. To find al-Qaida affiliates who are hiding around the world and . . . and bring 'em to justice -- we're doing a good job of it. I mean we are dismantling the al-Qaida as we knew it.
The long-term strategy is to spread freedom and liberty, and that's really kind of an interesting debate. You know there's some who say well, "You know certain people can't self govern and accept, you know, a form of democracy." I just strongly disagree with that.
I believe that democracy can take hold in parts of the world that are now non-democratic and I think it's necessary in order to defeat the ideologies of hate. History has shown that it can work, that spreading liberty does work. After all, Japan is our close ally and my dad fought against the Japanese. Prime Minister Koizumi, is one of t he closest collaborators I have in working to make the world a more peaceful place.
It is a forward strategy -- as difficult and daunting as defeating a worldwide ideology that was armed with nuclear weapons must have seemed to those who fought a Cold War for 45 years until they prevailed (although, 50 years after the end of WWII and the Korean War and 15 years after the end of the Cold War, U.S. troops are still in Germany and Korea).
John Kerry's strategy is a backward one -- moving back from Iraq, getting the troops home as soon as possible, promising in his Convention speech a swift and certain "response" if we are attacked again. Yesterday, in his speech to the American Legion, Kerry outlined his strategy in Iraq as follows:
We need to bring our allies to our side, share the burdens, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. And together, we need to more rapidly train Iraqi police and military to take over the job of protecting their country. That's what I’ll do as Commander-in-Chief -- because that’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.
It is not enough. It is even less than the Russians' inadequate response. Kerry's election would signal, and be perceived to signal, a retreat.