The Corner

Re: A Liberal War No More

Rich, I’m glad it’s gotten more hard-headed, but an Andy-war would be more like a Michael Ledeen-war — except more reliant on dealing with Iran militarily than hoping there will be an internal uprising there at some point. 

I favor the surge, but I have to admit it is with a heavy heart.  Abandoning the field, which is what the Dems want to do (Joe Lieberman honorably excepted), is unacceptable — it is defeat.  But the war has never been about Iraq, much less about Iraqi democracy.  The war to protect American national security has been about crushing militant Islam’s ability to project power.  Al Qaeda is massed in Iraq — the NIE released today says al Qaeda in Iraq is the network’s “most visible and capable affiliate.”  (Emphasis added.)  I don’t know how anyone could justify withdrawing from Iraq when we have an opportunity to inflict major damage on al Qaeda’s most capable force.  The Democrats should be ashamed of associating themselves with such a position.  (Memo to Speaker Pelosi & Leader Reid:  Even if you were right that we caused al Qaeda to be in Iraq — and you’re not – they’re there now!  It’s not responsible to leave while that is the case, regardless of how we got to this point.)

But the beating heart of the enemy is Iran.  To think we can win in Iraq without dealing with Iran is a fantasy.  More importantly, to think we can win the overall war without dealing with Iran (as it abets and harbors al Qaeda, selectively unleashes Hezbollah, and builds its nukes) is a fantasy.  I’ve been thinking a lot the last few months:  What would we be saying here on our fair Corner if Bill Clinton were the president saying “we need to keep negotiating along with our international partners” while Iran killed American soldiers in Iraq, built its nukes, and unabashedly announced that a world without the U.S. and Israel was foreseeable?  My sense is we would be apoplectic.

My hope with the surge has been that we stay on the field, fight al Qaeda, and — finally — realize that there is no choice but to deal with the Mullahs and the Pakistani border region.  That’s what our security demands, and it’s much less likely to happen if we pull out.  But if my son were fighting in Iraq, and I wasn’t convinced we were there to defeat the enemy rather than primarily to promote Iraqi freedom, I can’t honestly say I would see things the same way.

That’s why I get so disheartened when I hear the president talk this nonsense about the universality of freedom.  If the surge is just about Iraqi freedom, we shouldn’t be doing it.  The American people don’t care what form of government Iraq has — not enough to fight a war over it.  They care about defeating enemies who threaten the United States, and the president has never made the case — nor do I think he could — that American national security is materially affected by whether Iraq remains Iraq as we know it, whether it is democratic, or whether the Shiites and Sunnis — despite knowing they are being played by al Qaeda — decide they nonetheless need to slaughter each other in order to somehow vindicate Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate.

I’m very worried that while the Democrats are content to lose the war, the president is unwilling to do what must be done to win it, and we are, by our support, implicitly telling him that’s OK with us.  The surge, to which I’ve signed on, is merely the best of the bad alternatives on offer.  It will improve things in Iraq, at least for a while — General Petaeus, I imagine, will say we need to dig in for years, and I don’t see where the political will for that is going to come from unless it’s demostrably tied to a victory Americans care about winning.  But all that aside, the surge is necessary but far from sufficient to victory in the overall war.  The president’s approval ratings are abysmal not because Americans are anti-war, but because they are anti-defeat.  He is providing no roadmap to fight and win the overall war — he’s got no stomach for Iran, and he has let Iraq define the war to the point that people no longer even follow the perilous developments in Afghanistan.  

Until we finally decide to do what obviously needs doing, the overall war can’t be won.  But if we have no intention of doing what needs doing, then it pointless to go on.  That is why regular Americans – not the media and the Left, but regular Americans — have not gotten four-square behind the surge.  If we are not committed to REAL victory, meaning defeating this enemy–which is far from limited to the Iraqi insurgency and includes Iran and al Qaeda’s new safe-haven on the Pakistani/Afghan border – then that’s slow-motion defeat.  If we’re for slow-motion defeat, we should stop belittling the people who are ready to sign off on defeat now.  I don’t think we are for slow-motion defeat.  But that means we’ve got to start demanding a plan to win the whole thing, not just to avoid losing in the Iraq theater.

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