The “Q” Word

A big controversy erupted back in April when Ted Kennedy called Iraq “George Bush’s Vietnam;” commentators on the right like Instapundit and Jonah Goldberg accused Kennedy of preaching defeatism, while people on the left, like Mark Kleiman and Matt Yglesias, tried to argue that Kennedy hadn’t really meant an unwinnable quagmire; Kleiman eventually relented when Eugene Volokh pointed to Kennedy using the “q” word:

Eugene Volokh finds a news account of a Senate debate today in which Kennedy explicitly likens the Iraq situation to Vietnam, describing both as “quagmires.” Unlike Kennedy’s Brookings speech, this is unambiguously defeatist language. I don’t know whether it’s accurate analysis . . . but, accurate or not, it’s fair to say that having it used on the Senate floor is likely to make it harder to convince, e.g., Ali al-Sistani to come down on our side rather than Sadr’s side.

Well. Now, we have John Kerry running a campaign commercial criticizing ads run by Bush “[i]n the face of the Iraq quagmire . . .” Defeatism has become the major theme of the Kerry campaign in the closing weeks, to the point where he would run an ad just assuming that the war in Iraq is a “quagmire.”
Don’t say you weren’t warned.

2 thoughts on “The “Q” Word”

  1. Our troops are not going to lose in Iraq. He can shout quagmire from the highest hill but it does not make it so. Kerry would once again lead our nation to defeat in war as he did with Vietnam. He is unable to forget his first “victory” in changing our policies to give up the fight. I only have one vote, but Kerry will never get it.

  2. Well, a quagmire is generally defined as being �wet, boggy ground� so even semantically it doesn�t seem like a great way to describe a desert country like Iraq.
    Of course, the point about things being rough over there, and apparently getting rougher, is a fair one. It just doesn�t add that much to the debate. We should either be helping the Iraqis get their country back on its feet or we shouldn�t. The fact that the task is proving to be difficult doesn�t mean it�s not worth doing. The character of the opposition in Iraq (i.e. people who videotape cutting the heads off of bound, kidnapped civilians) as well as its relative strength should be evidence that there is still important work to be done there, rather than evidence that running away is the best or inevitable course of action.

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