Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Party of Defeat:How Democrats and Radicals Undermined
America’s War on Terror Before and After 9-11,
by David Horowitz & Ben Johnson.
Spence Publishing Co., 2008, 197 pp.,

December  22, 2008 

…[A] nation divided in wartime is a nation that invites its own defeat. Yet that is precisely how Americans are facing the global war that radical Islamists have declared on them. (PoD, p.3) 

The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries: the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and Glory or misery and humiliation. (Osama bin Laden, December 28, 2004) 

This relatively short book tells in clear language, citing chapter and verse, how the American political Left in league with the mainstream (liberal) media attempted to destroy president Bush’s effectiveness as commander-in-chief.  It’s not a pretty story, but one that needs to be understood in order to grasp what ails that country. 

David Horowitz started out as a Marxist rebel until he saw through the evil at the heart of that ideology, and then he became a tireless advocate of a free and open society. He is president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles, which publishes Front Page Magazine. Ben Johnson is managing editor of this magazine. (www.FrontPageMagazine.com) 

Historical Perspective

This book provides a helpful historical overview of the events that preceded  the American-led response to the war declared by radical Islamists against the free West. It recalls that the Clinton administration in 1998 requested Congress to pass the Iraq Liberation Act, which called for regime change by force. It was ratified by both parties.  

Four years later, when president Bush made the same request, a majority of Democrats in the Senate voted in favour. When Bush gave the order to invade Iraq on March 19, 2003, a large majority of the Democratic leadership including former president Clinton and his secretaries of state and defense supported that move. 

Immediately after the 9-11 attack, even leading Democrats who later became the most outspoken critics of president Bush’s policies, professed their determination to stand with the president, including Al Gore, Senator Robert Byrd, and the freshman New York Senator Hillary Clinton.  

She publicly urged the president  “Not only to seek out and exact punishment on the perpetrators, but to make very clear that not only those who harbor terrorists, but to those who in any way aid or comfort them whatsoever will face the wrath of our country.” The president ’s approval rating then stood at 85 per cent. 

Al Gore, addressing the Council of Foreign Relation on February 12, 2002, supported presidents Bush’s designation of an “Axis of Evil.” He said that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed “a virulent threat in a class by itself “ and regime change by force in Iraq should be an option. He said: “As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table…. We must be prepared to go the limit.” 

However, that initial unity soon began to crumble and then quickly became a yawning chasm. At first, it was the most extreme Left of the party that objected to the president’s decision to go to war. But then the crescendo of criticism built up, abetted by Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9-11, a reckless vendetta against president Bush. The tone of the debate descended into conspiratorial bitterness and contempt, now adopted by the mainline leadership of the Democratic Party. 

This went so far as to publicly accuse Bush of having known in advance that America would be attacked but saying nothing. This outlandish accusation was first launched by congresswoman Cynthia McKinney but then picked up by others, including Hillary Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.  

Home Front Collapse

The first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993 had been prosecuted as an ordinary crime, ignoring the true character of the religious fanaticism behind that attack.(See Andrew C. McCarthy,  Willful Blindness.) The record is clear that the Clinton administration missed a score of opportunities to act against those who had declared war on the U.S., including turning down offers of Osama bin Laden’s extradition.    

What made matters worse was the dismantling of U.S defence and intelligence capabilities that had begun earlier and continued apace during Clinton’s watch. The loss (and non-replacement) of key personnel, including those skilled in foreign languages was creating dangerous gaps. 

One of the most destructive restraints on the FBI and the CIA was the “wall” designed to keep the agencies from sharing information - a kind of suicide pact if there ever was one. It is now well known that these policies were responsible for missing the valuable clues that would likely have caught the 9-11 terrorists.

 Another factor not mentioned by the anti-Bush crowd is that precious time in getting the new Bush administration up to speed was lost because of the drawn-out court challenges of the 2000 election outcome. Early in his tenure president Bush had asked for a thorough overview of the state of intelligence services. That report landed on his desk on September 10, 2001.  

The critics of the Bush policies ignore all of this background. The initial broad support among the Democrats right after 9-11 soon withered. But they had a problem. How to justify their drastic change of mind? It started with finding fault with the prosecution of the Iraq war, which was not difficult to do.  

The defeat of Saddam Hussein’s regime was surprisingly quick and with relatively few causalities. But the aftermath was filled with stumbles, setbacks and mistakes that provided plenty of ammunition to the critics. They were mightily supported in their opposition by the mainline media, led by the New York Times, which were determined to put this war and the president’s leadership in the worst possible light.  

As the war progressed, the accusations became more and more irresponsible, switching from finding fault with the conduct of the war to accusing Bush of having lied to the American people. 

Even leading Democrats, who had previously endorsed president Bush’s decision to use military force, now began to make the most outrageous accusations.  In February 2004, Al Gore appearing on a MoveOn.org event declared that Bush “had betrayed us.”  

Aiding the Enemy

What was in fact a minor incident perpetrated by a few dim-witted U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison was blown up into a major scandal that was eagerly exploited by the antiwar media all over the world.  

Even leading Democrats added to the furor. On the floor of the Senate, Edward Kennedy compared American troops with Saddam Hussein’s Baathist thugs. Al Gore referred to the Abu Ghraib prison as “an American Gulag… Bush’s Gulag. 

Another accusation that got a lot of mileage was that Bush had lied about the presence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), since none were found. But the report of the Iraq Survey Group, headed by David Kay and published in October 2003, found plenty of evidence that Hussein, in defiance of the UN, had continued an active WMD program.  

An extreme example of the vilification of the Bush administration occurred when General David Petraeus, a highly respected and brilliant military commander appeared before Congress to report on the situation in Iraq.  On the day he testified,  MoveON.org took out a full-page ad in the New York Times under the headline “ General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”  

Senator Hillary Clinton in effect accused the General of lying. She told him: “ I think that the reports you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief.”  Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee called the general’s report a “litany of delusion.” Other leading Democrats made similar demeaning comments, including Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader who stated that the General’s report has been through the “ White House spin machine.” 

Another serious  case of sabotaging the war effort by the media was their publishing classified government documents that betrayed certain national security programs that then had to be discontinued. The forced cancellation of these programs seriously diminished the government’s ability to defend the country. They were also criminal offences, but no one was prosecuted.  

Party of Defeat tells the story of a country at war with an implacable foe, while it is a country riven by confusion about the nature of that foe and about its own identity. It is not an argument against criticism per se of president Bush or his war policies. But it is a warning against re-writing history, undermining a lawfully elected government, and in so doing hand a major propaganda victory to an enemy that is serious about its threat to destroy the Great and the Little Satan.

 This book is must reading for all who look for clarity amidst the confusion surrounding the war. It takes extraordinary courage and determination to publish a book of this kind in defiance of the ruling political correctness ideology of the day.