The Big Lesson


To: The President

From: Karl Rove

As the Iraq War winds down, I want to bring to your attention several important lessons. Election day is just 19 months away. While I have the highest respect for your dad, I think it fair to say he squandered his victory in the Gulf War. You do not want to make the same mistake. Take careful note of the following:

1. We didn't need the United Nations. As I predicted, the polls suddenly shifted once the invasion began. Before, almost 60 percent of Americans didn't want us invading Iraq without UN backing. After we invaded anyway, 70 percent approved.

2. We didn't need to show a connection to al-Qaeda. It didn't matter that we had no firm evidence of such a link. As I thought, the public found justification enough in the fact that Hussein was a vicious tyrant from whom we would liberate the Iraqi people.

3. The war distracted the public's attention from our failures on terrorism. It has also served as a giant memory blocker, making it seem as if you've been a successful leader in the war against terrorism. Most Americans no longer recall that we let Osama get away, that we never found the anthrax mailer, that you presided over the worst intelligence failure in modern history just prior to 9-11 and that we still haven't prepared the nation for another terrorist attack on America.

4. The war distracted the public's attention from our failures on the economy. The economy continues to collapse. Jobs are being lost at a rate not seen in a half-century. More instances of corporate fraud are being exposed weekly. Yet, as I predicted, the war has immunized us. We ducked bullets on Enron and Halliburton, got away with firing the whole economic team, enacted your 2001 tax break that mostly benefits the top 2 percent, and have a decent chance of getting your next tax break even though it busts the budget and threatens the boomers' Social Security.

5. The war revealed the Democrats to be comatose. As I thought, Dems are so afraid of being labeled anti-war appeasers that we ran right over them. They have no foreign policy, no anti-terrorist policy and no guts. Forcing them to vote last fall on whether to give you authority to attack was brilliant, if I do say so myself. It sawed off their legs just before the elections. The whole Iraq War media offensive was perfectly timed. As I predicted, by starting in late August we got the run-up to election day, which helped us win back the Senate.

6. We split the Jews. Anti-war Jews will never be with us, so we didn't lose them. But as I predicted, we've attracted a lot of the hard-line, pro-Israeli Jews to the Republican camp. They started leaning our way after we gave Sharon a blank slate to go after the Palestinians. Now they love us. I don't have to tell you how helpful this could be next year.

7. The media gave us a free ride. Reporters and editors focused on the daily tactics of the war and avoided the larger question of how the war will affect the overarching goal of reducing the likelihood of future terrorist attacks in the United States.

What do these lessons add up to? You need to continue this war -- at least through November 2004.

There's no reason to declare victory just yet. Remember: Iran lies just over Iraq's eastern border; Syria is immediately to the west. These borders are arbitrary anyway, imposed on the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Both Iran and Syria are headed by tyrants and both are dangerous. Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb; Syria sponsors terrorists.

Here's the argument you can make. Our preemptive war with Iraq is really just the first phase of our larger preemptive strategy in the Middle East. In order to stabilize the Middle East, rid it of cruel despots and ensure that terrorists don't get access to WMD, we must move eastward into Tehran and westward into Damascus.

Mr. President, now is your chance. Your dad failed to push into Baghdad, and where did that leave him? Without a job.

By the way, Cheney and Rummy are in full agreement with me. Colin has some reservations but, being the good soldier he is, he's willing to cave (again). Needless to say, the RNC is wildly enthusiastic.

You have only to give the nod and the speech is ready.

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