A Negligent President

Two recent developments in the “war on terror” give hope that the nation, and especially Congress, may be coming to its senses about the failure of President George W. Bush’s misconceived campaign to defeat Islamic terrorism by invading Iraq.

First, Bush delivered a “major” speech October 6 intended to reinvigorate support for “staying the course,” and perhaps not incidentally to divert attention from political problems at home. The speech was rightly met with skepticism and even indifference by the American public, a majority of whom, opinion polls now show, oppose the ongoing occupation of Iraq. Few believe that this week’s referendum on the Iraq constitution will do more than push that beleaguered nation’s bitter factions further apart, possibly into open civil war. With no cessation in violence or sign that Iraqi troops are willing or capable of battling the insurgency on their own, it seems likely that pressure from Republicans will force Bush to declare victory and begin bringing troops home before the 2006 midterm elections. At this late date, with nearly two thousand American dead, more than thirteen thousand wounded, and a bill exceeding $200 billion, even Bush’s GOP support is eroding.

More encouraging was the Senate’s passage (by an impressive 90–9 vote) of an amendment, authored by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), to the military appropriations bill, which prohibits the Defense...

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