Ortega’s ascent to power offers several lessons. One is that the Sandinistas were indeed popular and made significant progress on many social issues. Their rule looks like a golden age against the background of their corrupt successors, unconcerned with the people’s needs. Communism doesn’t fit the US value system, but many other nations embrace it. Healthcare, security, and education are more important to many than freedom of speech.

Ortega’s return is an insult to the US but nothing more. Nicaragua is a backwater country, not a Soviet beachhead in America. Nor will an alliance with insignificant Nicaragua help Chavez’ reputation. Ortega can be safely ignored.
Even better, the US could lose graciously: welcome Ortega and commend him for policy changes such as the rejection of nationalization and conscription.

In Iraq, the US could turn loss into victory, at least in PR terms. World opinion forgave America its cut and run affair in Vietnam; people are reasonable and understand a no-win situation. Even among the Muslims, few take the Mogadishu debacle seriously. Foreigners know the US can flatten any place and don’t take the retreat for major weakness. US failures greatly encourage communist and Islamic radicals, but they would fight regardless of the encouragement.

The key to successful US withdrawal from Iraq is defiance. America does not evacuate under pressure from guerillas. As a superpower, it strikes whom it wishes, beats him into a failed state, and goes back home. America could not care less about democracy in Iraq but invaded it to punish misbehavior: from Saddam’s plot against Bush Sr. to non-cooperation with weapons inspectors. Don’t mess with an America which punishes at whim.

Muslims will respect such a position.