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It's one war, stupid


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It's one war, stupid

When Bubba speaks, attention must be paid. Not because he might be right, but because he's always up to something. These days, it's about trying to elect Hillary President, which he seems to want more than she does.

So we must parse the Great Parser's recent comments on Iraq, terrorism and the London airline plot. Let's deconstruct what he said, what he meant and how he thinks it will help her.

"I don't think the foiling of that London bomb plot has any bearing on our Iraq policy," Bill Clinton told ABC News last week. He scoffed at the claim the plotters had Al Qaeda ties, saying "If that's true, how come we've got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan?"

This is step No. 1 of a two-step maneuver and reflects the evolving position of the Democratic Party. The goal is to separate Iraq from worldwide Islamic terrorism in the minds of American voters. As public support for Iraq keeps falling, Dems are getting bolder in saying Iraq is an irrelevant distraction.

If enough people believe them, the party can call for withdrawing our troops from Iraq without appearing soft on terror. Some, like Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, are already there, and others are moving that way. Soon the party's position will be: We're not against the war on terror, only against the war in Iraq!

Clinton's step No. 2 was his claim that Dems who voted to give Bush authority to go to war in Iraq - including you-know-who - did so only to force dictator Saddam Hussein to roll over. "They felt, frankly, let down that the UN inspectors were not permitted to finish, and they were worried that we were devoting attention away from Afghanistan and the hunt for Bin Laden ...," Clinton said.

This is whole cloth-layered and complex, but still fiction. Democrats who voted for the war authorization knew damn well what they were doing. If they didn't, they're too dumb to be in politics.

But to help Hillary, Clinton has to keep repeating the fiction because some 2008 presidential contenders, like Kerry and John Edwards, now say their vote was a mistake. Hillary hasn't, and good for her. But she won't defend her war vote, either, being afraid she'll get a Joe Lieberman problem from the wackadoo wing. So she says, or has her husband say it for her, that she was misled.

That's Bubba's game: Separate Iraq from the war on terror, and separate Hillary from her own vote on Iraq. Presto, Democrats can fold in Iraq and still say they are tough on terror, and Hillary can lead them because her record has been laundered.

Politics-wise, the move is pure opportunism. If it fools enough people this fall, Dems will take one or both houses of Congress and Hillary will still be the front-runner for 2008.

Policy-wise, it's a disaster. It is patently ridiculous to argue that Iraq has nothing to do with the war against Islamic terrorists. There are many fronts in World War III. Each is distinct, yet they are all related because the enemy has the same roots and often the same sponsors.

Israel's fight against Hezbollah proves the point. Its failure to land a knockout punch instantly emboldened Hezbollah and its sponsors, Syria and Iran.

So it is in Iraq. Our failure there would strengthen terror groups everywhere and give Iran and Syria more reason to make more mischief.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair put it brilliantly recently, saying the fight against Islamic terror is a "global fight about global values." He linked disparate groups in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya and Africa in "an arc of extremism."

"It doesn't always need structures and command centers or even explicit communication," Blair said of the enemy. "It knows what it thinks."

It knows what it thinks. That's the simple, straight truth. No parsing required.


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