National Review has a great editorial admonishing Congressional Republicans not to panic on Iraq — the surge is producing results, and while the Iraqi government is failing to meet its benchmarks, the reality is that what the Iraqi government does is less important than what the Iraqi people do as a whole. The Anbar Awakening is helping us in driving out al-Qaeda. Iraq’s Sunni population is continuing to reject terrorism. Iraqi troops, while still shaky, are slowly improving in their ability to secure the country.
President Bush needs to schedule a nationwide televised address and explain the situation to the American people. He needs to show Michael Yon’s pictures of the genocide at al-Ahamir and remind the American people that it’s mainly al-Qaeda we’re fighting in Iraq. He needs to explain why the “surge” is a change in course and why it’s based on the strategies that worked in Tel Afar.
In other words, we need the George W. Bush of September 14, 2001 back and now.
Congressional Republicans must not go wobbly on Iraq. The costs of defeat will be tremendous, and the Democrats are not pushing for withdrawal because it’s in the best interest of the United States of America, they are advocating withdrawal because they want to win in 2008. The Democrats have no plan for dealing with Iraq into the future, and even The New York Times admits that the likely result will be ethnic cleansing, terrorism, and a destabilized Middle East. Nobody wants to have a realistic talk about the consequences of withdrawal because that would cloud the political message.
National Review puts it bluntly:
But opponents of the war are now willing to retreat from Iraq, no matter what the consequences. Sunday’s New York Times editorial calling for a withdrawal had this extraordinarily candid passage: “Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.”
That is what the panicked Republicans are steering us toward. Unless and until they get a grip, President Bush must do all he can to resist them.
The political future of the Republican Party is nothing compared to the vital interests of the United States in ensuring that Iraq does not become a destabilizing force in the region. If wobbling Senators like Dominici and Lugar think that bugging out in Iraq will help them politically, they are dead wrong. They’ll have sacrificed this war and gained nothing.
Thomas Paine once wrote that “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” That is precisely what the leadership of this nation are doing.
There is no question that the road to achieving stability in Iraq will be a long and difficult one. This war will be a long and difficult one — but the costs of not fighting are infinitely greater. To withdraw in Iraq is to hand al-Qaeda a victory, and to hand al-Qaeda a victory is to give them strength. The seeds of September 11 were sowed when Osama bin Laden observed America’s ignominious withdrawal from Somalia — it was then that he knew that America was a weak horse that could be beaten into submission by a force that was strong in will. Al-Qaeda knows our weaknesses, and they’re doing their best to exploit them. Those weaknesses are not to be found on the battlefield, but in a political class that sacrifices all for expediency and a populace that no longer has the will to fight.
What is truly maddening is that we’re proving that bin Laden was right about us: we don’t have the stomach to fight. What is truly frightening is that he also thinks that weakness will be our downfall. He may yet be proven correct on that front as well.