Congressional Democrats are in full battle mode. The House has passed the Iraq military supplemental funding bill with withdrawal dates; Harry “The-War-is-Lost” Reid continues to rail. Rep. Rahm Emanuel the other day chose a forum at the august Brookings Institution to launch an all-out attack on the Bush Administration, accusing it of causing all modern ills. He was a take-no-prisoners operative on the Clinton team in the '90s, so this kind of broadbrush attack is in character.
All of this reflects the Democrats’ belief that the polls they are reading mean that a majority of Americans want us out of Iraq PDQ. They are mistaking discomfort and anxiety for determined protest.
The president continues to insist that if we pull out before the Iraq government is prepared to maintain security, chaos will ensue and the war on terror will broaden. If the Democrats succeed in cutting off funding, forcing premature Coalition withdrawal, and chaos does ensue, look for them to say, in effect, “See, we got out just in time” — to try to avoid blame for defeat. That may work for the short-term, but will rebound on them over time.
Remembering the Vietnam hangover (after the Democrats had pulled the funding plug), many Americans will be left with a very sour feeling, especially when al-Qaeda and its allies ramp up their terror attacks in the wake of an American pullout.
General Petraeus’s briefing of Congress the other day made it clear that sectarian violence has declined approximately two-thirds since the new counter-insurgency strategy in Baghdad began.
The recent suicide bombings have been by al-Qaeda and its allies for the purpose of dashing the hopes of the Iraqi people for peace, undermining its government and intimidating the American public and its elected officials into believing that the situation is hopeless.
In their public statements, Senator Reid and his colleagues continue to act as if they had not heard what General Petraeus told them; they believe that right up to the present moment the suicide attacks are between Shi’a and Sunni militias and that this is a “civil war” in which we should not be involved.
President Bush has spoken often and passionately about the need to fully fund the troops and their mission until there is a semblance of stability in Iraq. He says we must fight al-Qaeda and its allies in the Middle East or we will be fighting them on our own soil (note that it has been five-and-a-half-years since there has been an attack here). What he has not spelled out — and must — is the larger reason why we must succeed in Iraq.
As any expert about the region will affirm, in the Arab world strength is respected (if not loved), and weakness is exploited. Osama bin Laden tested our resolve several times in the '90s and found us irresolute. It took the attacks of September 11, 2001, to awaken us and, to Osama’s surprise, we responded with vengeance.
If we pull out before finishing the job in Iraq we will have set the stage for the current insurgency, led by al Qaeda and its allies, to intensify their attacks on a weak government in order to topple it and replace it with what militant Islamists have wanted all along, the reestablishment of a Caliphate in Baghdad. The rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan gives us a sample of the type of government they would hope to impose.
With a majority of Iraqis being Shi’a this largely Sunni outcome would be contested. Look for real civil war between Sunni and Shi’a elements (with some of the latter, such as Muqtada al-Sadr, doing Iran’s bidding in the conflict). The Kurds would opt out by retiring to their redoubt in the north.
Whether or not Iraq is torn apart in the process. instability will be the order of the day. Al Qaeda will step up its attacks elsewhere in the Middle East and South Asia in order to drive toward its mid-range goal: eliminating all U.S. and Western influence in Arab/Muslim lands.
Congressional Democrats have adopted the See-No-Evil-Hear-No-Evil posture in order to focus on their only goals: winning the 2008 election and escaping the blame for undercutting our troops in the field.
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