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In his State of the Union Speech, President Bush laid out his vision of the war on terrorism, saying Islamic Radicalism is an ideology – much like Communism and Nazism were ideologies in their times, opposing everything we stand for and determined to destroy us.

Democratic Senator Jim Webb, in his rebuttal, did not differ with Bush’s vision of radical Islam. In fact, he stated clearly the broader war on terrorism must be won. But he argues President Bush has been an ineffective war leader, saying the President recklessly plunged us into the war in Iraq, despite warnings from military leaders and others, and now it is time to stop him and set a new direction.

President Bush and Senator Webb, both, implicitly, seem to agree military victory is no longer a solution in Iraq – or, perhaps, for that matter, in the broader war on terrorism.

The President argues sending 21,000 more men to Iraq will give us the hope of victory – but he is not talking about military victory. Instead victory depends on both the military and other factors; he is sending 21,000 more men to buy time for the political stars inside Iraq to align in our favor. So victory depends on the government of Iraq becoming strong and stable.

Senator Webb is not counting on military victory either. He says clearly his new direction includes a combination of military and diplomatic solutions.

The President has apparently concluded the price and pain of military victory – which would require sending a lot more than 21,000 more men – would be so unpopular it is out of the question. It is not politically viable here at home. So, he is reduced to buying time and hoping for the stability of the government in Iraq – while his opponents are reduced to gambling on diplomacy – hoping to persuade the Iranians and Syrians to stop supporting the Islamic radicals and insurgents in Iraq.

Our leaders are trying to thread a pair of needles.

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