- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2005

If I hear one more time how the United States better clean up its world image so we don’t further alienate foreigners and generate more terrorists, I think I am going to wretch.

There is no small irony in the fact the people doing their level best to ensure the news is dominated by stories portraying America as imperialistic and inhumane are the same ones warning we dare not permit our image to deteriorate.

They are determined to bring us stories week after week that depict the United States as a heartless monster. They have been telling us since we attacked Iraq that the Bush administration manipulated the intelligence data on weapons of mass destruction and lied to get us into war, and that we pre-emptively struck Iraq without provocation and in contravention of international law.

It didn’t matter to them all the independent investigations they touted rejected their ultimate conclusions: that President Bush pressured the intelligence agencies to doctor the evidence in favor of war and that he misrepresented their unanimous assessment Saddam was stockpiling WMD.

They just kept disseminating the same lies — to the point 90 percent of the Democrat base was actually taken in by them. And, finally, after patiently waiting years for a smoking gun to incriminate the Bush administration, the American left thought it had received a gift from the God it doesn’t believe in: the Downing Street Memo.

This “scandalous” record of a meeting among British officials would be no less powerful than the DNA-stained blue dress that jogged Bill Clinton’s memory during the days of the Kenneth Starr witch hunt. But though the memo said, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” an honest contextual reading revealed “fixed” didn’t mean “manipulated.”

All but Bushophobic readers understood this same memo disclosed a genuine belief by the British that Saddam had WMD and might unleash them on allied forces if we attacked.

Even liberal columnist Michael Kinsley doesn’t seem to buy that the memo is a smoking gun. The memo has turned out to be much ado about nothing.

Not to worry. There’s always Gitmo: the story that just won’t die — the left will see to that. Their relentless mantra is that the Bush administration systematically abuses and tortures terrorist war prisoners — at Gitmo and elsewhere.

Forget that we mostly bend over backward to treat enemy combatants with kid gloves, feeding them better than our own troops, providing them copies of the Koran and enforcing special rules to ensure it is treated respectfully.

Forget that the toughest interrogation techniques to which many objected only lasted two weeks, and still did not result in the 20th hijacker from September 11, 2001, being physically assaulted. But they did obtain critical information that may have saved many American and Iraqi lives.

The left steadfastly chooses to ignore the positive, hype the negative and presume American culpability. They deny their reflexively anti-American instincts and congenital softness on terrorism, insisting they are more committed to winning the war than even the evil “neocons.” It’s just America’s methods they disapprove of.

But where did they get this rarely challenged, counterintuitive and nonsensical idea that terrorism is spawned primarily by American misconduct — or America’s cavalier image? How can anyone with the slightest hint of objectivity conclude Islamic terrorism is a reaction to, or a byproduct of, evil emanating from the United States? Who, besides the terrorist themselves could possibly take such garbage seriously?

Leave it to the American left, which bristles at the slightest insinuation it sometimes goes to extensive lengths to conceal its patriotism, to figure the war’s outcome will be determined by a popularity contest — America’s image abroad — rather than bombs, guns and bullets.

Indeed, the left and squishy moderates now say we should close Gitmo, even if it is clear there is no mistreatment of terrorist prisoners there — because such a gesture will show the world our good will and rehabilitate our image.

Such thinking is pathetic and promises disastrous consequences. Of course we should comport ourselves consistent with our high moral standards — because it is the right to do so. But we must not be deluded into thinking the war is a PR contest and put ourselves and our troops in a PC straitjacket to score higher in the next international poll.

The notion our success in the war will depend on our image is appeasement-driven psychobabble. But if the left is so convinced of it, isn’t it time they stopped doing everything in their power to destroy our image?

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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