As Thanksgiving Approaches - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
As Thanksgiving Approaches

Herewith, admittedly from the safety of the glorious nation called The United States of America, far from Ar-Ramadi, a few respectful thoughts about the war in Iraq:

1.) Conducting the war against al-Qaeda and the terrorists is a major drain on the energies of this administration. It would be a major drain on the energies of any administration. For Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald to be further draining the energies of the administration with his perjury indictment of Scooter Libby would be a matter for the most urgent concern if the charges against Libby were serious. But since by common consent of every serious criminal lawyer I have talked to, they are simply matters of routine politics being made criminal so that Fitzgerald can get on the cover of magazines — this is scandalous. That is, to bring perjury charges over a matter where there is no underlying crime is always considered highly questionable behavior by a prosecutor. But to do so against an official helping to wage a war is almost unbelievable. The comparison that comes to mind is a DA indicting a soldier fighting in Iraq on an old speeding ticket. Prosecutors have wide latitude to bring or not bring charges. For Mr. Fitzgerald to have such poor judgment as to weaken and enervate the only government we have over a total triviality that will almost certainly turn out not to be a crime is an abuse of prosecutorial discretion on a dismaying scale. It would be different (but not much) in peacetime. But in wartime, it is so bad that it unnerves the mind.

I am sure that Mr. Fitzgerald, like all of us, wants to be a good citizen and wants to do his job. I am also certain that he likes being famous. That’s human nature. But what he is doing (I am sure not in intent, but in effect) is a great service to Abu-Musad al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden, and a great disservice to his country and to the law. It is not too late for him to drop the charges, dignify himself and his office, and go back to prosecuting criminals. I cannot believe this man would, if he thought about it, want to spend one iota of his energy helping the enemies of this country, but in my humble opinion, that’s just what he’s doing. I may be wrong.

2.) It is not just a guess, but a certainty that if the U.S. were to abruptly withdraw from Iraq, as the Democrats are urging us to do, there would be a bloodbath in Iraq far worse than what we have seen so far. There would be outright civil war, large scale massacres of civilian populations beyond what we have seen by an order of magnitude, and a Middle East in chaos as Iran, the Kurds, and the Sunnis fought it out for land and oil and power. The word of the United States would be mud. Is this really what the Democrats want? Can they really contemplate with calm equanimity the mass murders that will follow a sudden U.S. withdrawal?

I see a frightening pattern here: the Democrats wanted us out of Vietnam, and never mind the genocide that followed. The Democrats want us out of Iraq and never mind that the Baathists will fill the vacuum and all Iraq will be screaming in pain except the murderers, who will exult — especially Osama bin Laden. Can it be that the Democrats really want to surrender to the same man who killed 3,000 civilians on 9/11 and laughed about it? Are we so weak that in only four years, after a war smaller in casualties than many unknown battles of the Civil War, we are already eager to surrender to the man who murdered women and children and made terrified couples hold hands and leap to their deaths from the World Trade Center? If so, there really is little hope for us as a people. My prayer is that careful reflection will convince the Democrats that while we are all unhappy about the war, war is hell, and surrender is far worse. Maybe the Copperheads in the Democrat party, like those who wanted appeasement of the slave owners one hundred and forty years ago, will be a minority, and those who want to keep up the fight for human decency will prevail even as the Neville Chamberlains speak of peace at any price.

3.) I have a voluminous correspondence with soldiers and Marines in Iraq. To a man and woman, they do not want to walk away and make their comrades’ deaths meaningless. They hate the war. They hate the dying. They grieve. So do their families. But they believe in their mission and they do not want their brothers’ losses to be in vain. Their voices should be listened to.

4.) Insurgencies by highly motivated people are extremely hard to stamp out. This is especially true in Arab countries, where bravery is fanatically motivated by religion and personal unhappiness. But suppressing rebellions has been done in Egypt, Algeria, and Israel. It takes a lot of ugliness to do it. This is war, especially guerrilla war. It is horrible that we are in this kind of war, but we are in it, and it will never be won except by the most severe means. Whatever we do, however, it will be nothing compared with the firebombing of Tokyo, the carpet bombing of every German city, the atom bomb on Hiroshima. That is the awful truth: wars are won by horrific measures. It is deeply tragic, but it’s true. If we are not willing to adopt strict measures, we will not and cannot win.

It is all very sad. But Saddam Hussein was even sadder and more atrocious, the Stalin of the Middle East, and for all of the pain of Iraq — and it is terrifying — progress is being made.

5.) There is no end to the gratitude we must feel towards the men and women fighting this war, and their families. As Thanksgiving approaches, our number one task is to be thankful we still have brave men and women ready to sacrifice all for our lazy fat selves and our freedoms. Let us not use that freedom to betray their sacrifice.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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