Like al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the many other adversaries America and the West must continue to face, the Russians are looking forward to the time after George Bush leaves office. It is assumed that the American electorate has by now tired of playing policeman to the world, and that the next president will be a liberal Democrat, eager to make unilateral concessions, slash military budgets to fund social programs, and cut-and-run from foreign battlefields.
Forget allies, the American Left seems to forget what their own security requires. It's so much fun to bash Bush, but will any of them grow up in the face of real security concerns should they take the mantel? Or is every world leader from Castro to Assad to Putin to Ahmadinejad betting correctly?
America is demonized as the "cowboy," going it alone; and Western politicians, especially on the left, score easy points by smugly playing to their domestic anti-American galleries. The lethal enemies of the West cannot help but notice this dynamic, and from car bombings in Iraq, to the rhetoric of Russian and Chinese military commanders, they exploit it to drive further wedges between the U.S. and her allies.
We are caught in a trap. The very success of the Bush strategy, in preventing another major terror strike on the U.S., in confronting and arresting the progress of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere, and also in consolidating the post-Cold War European gains of NATO and the European Union, contributes to an illusion of security in a world that has seldom been such a dangerous place. People forget what alliances require.
And this one factor may well be why we'll have a Republican again as President in 2008.