November 02, 2004

BILL STUNTZ WRITES that it's 1864 all over again:

George W. Bush is no Abraham Lincoln, and Iraq is not at all like the Petersburg trenches. But there are some important similarities. The American public is very poorly informed about the current military situation. We read of the daily bombings and hear about the endless quagmire. But we don't read about the number of insurgents killed or captured, the number who remain, or the quality of their supplies and morale. Years from now when this war is chronicled, the past several months may look a little like Grant's campaign against Lee in the summer of 1864, albeit without Grant's casualty list. A steadily larger portion of Iraq has come under the control of the Iraqi government and the American forces that stand behind it. Insurgents have been pushed back into a few isolated pockets. Their political support, never high, seems to have vanished. It may well be that, if the President wins reelection, the insurgency will crumble as quickly as Confederate resistance crumbled once Lincoln won a second term. Certainly there is no reason to believe that the insurgents could prevail if Americans are determined to defeat them. There is very good reason to believe the opposite.

Nevertheless, we could yet lose in Iraq -- by our own choice, not by any skill or power the enemy can bring to bear.

Or maybe it's 1945 all over again. As I wrote last year: "And as for those Bush/Churchill analogies, remember what happened to Churchill the minute people felt safe." Bush's greatest success is that we haven't been hit since 9/11. But that may be his greatest vulnerability, too. We'll see.

UPDATE: A reader wonders if I'm predicting a Bush loss here. No. Actually, my gut suggests a Bush win, though my methodology is unscientific: I got the hardcopy version of The Australian with my column, from a week or so before their election. The stuff they were writing about Howard, who won big, sounded eerily like the stuff I've been reading about Bush the past week. But my prognostications don't have an especially impressive track record, so take that to the bank -- or to TradeSports -- at your own risk. . ..