Two perspectives from two different newspapers explain exactly why this election is so critical. The first comes from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a paper whose left-wing bias is legendary. They argue that it’s OK to cut and run from Iraq:
Anyone advocating immediate or even sometime-soon withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is apt to be accused of wanting to “cut and run,” meaning they advocate a dishonorable, cowardly retreat.
But calling for an end to a fruitless, bloody conflict to which this nation has devoted itself for 3½ years, and which shows no signs of ever ending on terms favorable to the United States, is in no way cowardly. It’s a reasonable, even brave, perspective. It says, in effect, don’t spend more American blood, more American treasure on a lost cause.
Advocating what amounts to surrender in Iraq is cowardly, and it is dishonorable. It tells our troops in Iraq that they can’t do their job. It tells the Iraqi people that we don’t really give a damn about them and we’ll sell them out as soon as we can. It tells al-Qaeda that if they punch us hard enough, we’ll cry uncle.
If Iraq truly is a lost cause, then the Star-Tribune should advocate the responsible thing: we should officially sign a document of surrender in the Rose Garden with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden present. After all, if we lost, we should admit it openly. What the Star-Tribune advocates is surrender, and if they truly wish to advocate that position, they should be willing to accept its full repercussions.
The contrary view comes from those who spend their every moment living the reality of life in Iraq: the American soldiers stationed there. They know what’s really going on Iraq, and they say that the consequences of the “cut-and-run” strategy would be disastrous, whatever it may be called by those who advocate an American surrender:
With a potentially historic U.S. midterm election on Tuesday and the war in Iraq a major issue at the polls, many soldiers said the United States should not abandon its effort here. Such a move, enlisted soldiers and officers said, would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy.
“Take us out of that vacuum — and it’s on the edge now — and boom, it would become a free-for-all,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, who commands the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment just south of Baghdad. “It would be a raw contention for power. That would be the bloodiest piece of this war.”
If we leave Iraq, terror will fill the vacuum we leave behind. Our soldiers know the stakes a hell of a lot better than the left-wing ideologues at the Star-Tribune. Given the choice between trusting the voices coming out of Minnesota or Mesopotamia, it hardly takes a genius to figure out which one is more informed about the reality of life in Iraq.
We’re battling an implacable enemy in a long war. Just because the war isn’t over on a timescale convenient to us doesn’t mean that it is unwinnable. A successful counterinsurgency takes time, and right now the situation in Iraq is at a perilous inflection point — if we signal weakness, the entire enterprise will fail, and not only will America lose, but the entire Middle East could become a powderkeg. Al-Qaeda is watching our every move, and an American withdrawal from Iraq will give them the greatest victory that they have ever had. The psychology of terrorism needs victories to sustain itself — al-Qaeda was formed out of the knowledge that the Americans had shown weakness at Mogadishu — what power would al-Qaeda gain with a victory that was magnitudes greater?
We can’t afford that, and that is why anyone who advocates an ignominious American withdrawal, regardless of what language it is coached in, is acting against the interests of this country and indeed the security of the world. We cannot replace one tyranny in Iraq with another if we expect to win our current war on terrorism. Our soldiers understand what is at stake in this conflict — it’s too bad that our arrogant chattering classes evidently feel them too inferior to listen to their wise counsel.