Turning Victory into Long-Term Commitment

The Wall Street Journal celebrates the American “victory in Iraq” today with a narrative of the war that supports the decision to invade in 2003, and touts then-President George W. Bush’s strategy change in 2007 as his “finest hour.” President Obama even gets some love, as the editors commend his deliverance of a “responsible withdrawal.” After discussing the difficulties the Iraqis still face by way of political deadlock and foreign intrigue, the editorial recommends Baghdad and Washington “negotiate a more permanent U.S. presence” so that America can “reap” the strategic benefits of its blood and treasure, just like we did after World War II in Japan and Germany.

Max Boot—freshly returned from a visit—says there is more work to be done as well, after noting the “wonderful resiliency” displayed by Iraqis, now using cell phones and going to amusement parks, restaurants, and “even liquor stores.” Although he spends more time than the editors on the dangers that lie ahead, his conclusion is largely the same: work out a new agreement that allows for ten-to-twenty thousand U.S. troops “to remain in Iraq for years to come.”

Turning further east, the Washington Post supports a new United Nations commission on human rights abuses in Myanmar. They say the inquiry “need not discourage” the administration from continuing a policy of “pragmatic” engagement, but hopefully will signal to those surrounding Burmese dictator Than Shwe that “their futures may be brighter” if they distance themselves from his brutal policies. Now, the editors write, it is also time for “hard-headed diplomacy” as the White House makes clear to other powers that “justice for Burma is a priority and not an afterthought.”

And President Obama gets tossed around by the Post’s columnists. Politicians fail all the time, Michael Gerson says, but rarely do they fall from “such a height,” as the president, once a great well of idealistic inspiration who has now become the source of cynicism. But Eugene Robinson must not be living in the same world. He says Obama is “on a genuine winning streak” and has “just in the past few weeks”: pulled combat troops out of Iraq; weaned General Motors off government ownership; contained the Gulf oil spill; and did the “right thing” on the 9/11 mosque controversy. With which Charles Krauthammer profoundly disagrees, saying that the president’s words displayed “no courage.” He writes that the mosque’s supporters should show some respect for the hallowed ground, or it would be like Japan planting their flag at Pearl Harbor, which would still be offensive even though World War II ended sixty-five years ago.