‘You can clearly see what they are doing in Iraq.” Sen. Lindsey Graham was talking about the Islamic Republic of Iran, specifically the death trade plied by the mullahs, their Revolutionary Guard Corps, their Hezbollah operatives, and the assorted jihadists under their control. And while the plying is being done “in Iraq,” it is being done against America.
Senator Graham elaborated that Iran is setting the stage to frame the long-scheduled withdrawal from Iraq as a case of the United States being “driven out,” a cowardly retreat under fire. Nor is this happening solely in Iraq. Iran’s fortification of the Afghan Taliban also continues at a steady clip. It may even be spiking now as the planned drawdown of American forces gets under way. Again, the mullahs are determined to pose as Allah’s avengers, casting the infidels out of Dar al-Islam.
They are getting plenty of help from the Obama administration. The U.S. withdrawal is being driven by the political calendar, not conditions on the ground. Thus our enemies — and Iran has always been our principal enemy — get to make it look like whatever they want it to look like.
So, as 33,000 U.S. troops begin making their quietus, the Taliban and its jihadist allies are emboldened, not vanquished. In fact, Fox’s Jennifer Griffin reports that superior Iranian rockets enable our enemies to fire from 13 miles away, twice the range of the Taliban’s former arsenal. With U.S. air power paralyzed by the demagoguery of Iran’s new best friend, Hamid Karzai — the Afghan president minted by our government’s Islamic-democracy project — it gets awfully difficult to defend against such attacks.
Defending themselves is about all our troops will be able to do in the coming months. Karzai and the mullahs have finalized a joint defense and security agreement — in the jihadi pincer, Iran arms both the sharia “democracy” and its Taliban opposition; it’s the American troops getting squeezed. Meanwhile, fresh off the anti-American duet Iraq’s Pres. Jalal Talabani crooned with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the mullahs’ recent “anti-terrorism” summit, Iran’s vice president visited Baghdad this week to call on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, another democracy project success story. As they forged deeper economic, security, and cultural ties, they also marked a month in which 15 Americans were killed in Iraq, making it the worst month for U.S. forces in over two years.
You may recall that time in 2009 as the fleeting period of euphoria after President Bush’s troop surge transformed Iraq just as it was about to become a humiliating American failure. According to received Washington wisdom, the surge was a triumph — indeed, so spectacular a triumph that even President Obama now claims the Iraq mission as his own, as if we all share the Obamedia’s amnesia about their hero’s prominence in Harry Reid’s anti-surge legion of “This war is lost” Democrats.
To be sure, Iraq is Obama’s kind of foreign-policy triumph. The strategy was not to defeat the enemy but to stabilize a sharia democracy and protect a population that remains rabidly anti-American. So we have built Baghdad into a reasonably stable Iranian client state, pulled ever deeper into the mullahs’ orbit.
Iran has spent eight years killing Americans in Iraq. We responded by doing nothing. Attacking the source of the problem might have jeopardized Iraq’s fragile new government, whose leading factions are beholden to Tehran, a complication we chose to paper over. In fact, even as democracy-project enthusiasts crowed about Iraq’s purported evolution into a key American ally against the jihad, the Bush administration acceded to Maliki’s demand that Iraq not be used as a staging ground for U.S. operations against other nations (translation: against Iran, the kingpin of the jihad). It seems the only country we’d be permitted to attack from Iraq is Israel. And that’s no joke: Obama adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski actually suggested that the U.S. would shoot Israeli bombers down over Iraq if they dared try to take out Iran’s ripening nuclear arsenal.
Of course, the 15 Americans killed in Iraq last month are fewer than the 19 Americans that Iran killed in Saudi Arabia in 1996, in the Khobar Towers bombing. And it is considerably less than the nearly 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11. Noting that the mullahs had been supporting al-Qaeda since the early 1990s, the 9/11 Commission gingerly related sketchy evidence of Iranian involvement in the suicide hijackings that vaulted the U.S. to war: the provision of safe conduct into and out of Afghanistan for al-Qaeda operatives, the “remarkable coincidence” (to borrow the commission’s phrase) that Hezbollah leaders ended up on the same Iranian transit flights as the future hijackers, etc. Iran even harbored al-Qaeda leaders, including two of Osama bin Laden’s sons, in the years after 9/11.
Yet, these were dots the commission was content to leave unconnected. And no one — not the Bush administration, not the Obama administration, and not Congress — has shown much interest in revisiting them, despite the hundreds of Americans Iran has since killed, and continues to kill.
Here at home, a phony debate rages over whether conservatives are becoming “isolationist” — whether we are the Right’s version of George McGovern’s “Come Home America” Left. But most of us have never been isolationist. We’ve been realists about the enemy — specifically, about the need to defeat rather than court the enemy.
In the days after 9/11, President Bush outlined the only plan that had a chance of achieving victory: Hunt terrorists down wherever they operate and treat terror-abetting regimes as terrorists. That should have been the mullahs’ death knell. Instead, we’ve tried to fight a war the enemy prosecutes globally as if it were happening in only two countries, neither of them Iran.
Putting aside the merits of a Marshall Plan analogue for the Muslim Middle East, the original Marshall Plan was undertaken only after total victory was achieved over America’s enemies. There could be no free, independent, pro-American Europe without Normandy and D-Day and Hitler’s annihilation. If you leave the enemy undisturbed while indulging in self-congratulation over democracy and the Arab Spring, you’re choreographing a farce. I’d call it “Springtime for Khamenei,” except the tragic joke is on us.
“Intervention” in 2011 has become what “negotiation” was in the Obama hey-day of 2009 — something purportedly good for its own sake. The inconvenient reality is that, if it is not based on a strategy designed to defeat America’s enemies, it is inevitably counterproductive. It gives our enemies countless opportunities to show, quite dramatically, that we lack both resolve and a cogent plan.
It is not isolationist to conclude that if we are not in it to win, we are wasting time, billions of dollars that we don’t have, and precious lives. I may be wrong to deem it highly unlikely that true democracy will ever take in Islamic soil. I may be wrong in concluding that the Arab Spring is diplo-lipstick on a pig better seen as the Islamist Ascendancy. But I do know one thing for certain: Freedom has no chance of advancing in the Middle East, any more than it would have advanced in Europe, unless we conquer the enemy.
There was a moment in time when we knew that. It was long ago, though, and perhaps beyond recapturing by a war-weary, financially tapped-out nation.
If we’re not in it to win it — for victory, not for tilting at windmills — we should come home. But regardless of what we do, what was true in 1983, when Hezbollah bombed our Marines, remains true today: Iran is at war with us, whether we choose to engage or not. If we are not going to win, we are going to lose. Happy talk about democracy and springtime won’t obscure the fact that there is no middle ground.