Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Our National Security Depends On Iraq

Until relatively recently, the idea of immediately withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq was politely relegated to the fringe Left. But the drumbeat for repeating our cut-and-run episode in Vietnam has grown incessantly louder, not just from the bitter Left, but from relatively mainstream politicians.

Victor Davis Hanson explains here what has changed to allow this to happen. Hanson thinks this is a losing strategy. He notes that it only worked in Vietnam due to the Watergate scandal, and that despite the Bush loathing of the Left, the Plame kerfuffle doesn’t come close to rising to that level. Hanson asks some serious questions.
"First, are the metrics of this war in the terrorists’ or our favor? Are the Iraqi security forces growing or shrinking? Are elections postponed or on schedule? Are Europe, Jordan, Lebanon, and others more or less sympathetic to a war against Islamic terrorism in Iraq? Are bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Zarqawi more or less popular or secure after we removed Saddam? Is al Qaeda in a strengthened or weakened position? Is the Arab world more or less receptive to democracy in the Gulf, Egypt, Lebanon, and the West Bank? And is the United States more or less vulnerable to a terrorist attack as we go into our fifth year since September 11?"
To be sure, the President’s approval rating is low and people are tired of the war. But the same pollsters reveal that relatively few Americans seriously think we ought to pull out and leave Iraq high and dry. Hanson says that this is why “wiser,” “street-smart” Democrats “give full rein to the usefully idiotic and irresponsible in their midst, but make no move yet to undo what thousands of brave American soldiers have accomplished in Iraq.”

Fortunately, there are some politicians that are serious about our national security that assess Iraq in a levelheaded manner. Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) wrote in such a manner in an op-ed piece published in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, written following his fourth trip to Iraq in 17 months. His article should be required reading for American adults and youth old enough to understand.

Lieberman is very optimistic about the future of Iraq, but he is also realistic about what is going on there and the road ahead. He admits mistakes have been made. I might add that mistakes are still being made (see here). Lieberman says, “the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.”

Lieberman clearly defines what the war in Iraq is about. “It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern.” He discusses some of the good things that are happening in Iraq.
"In the face of terrorist threats and escalating violence, eight million Iraqis voted for their interim national government in January, almost 10 million participated in the referendum on their new constitution in October, and even more than that are expected to vote in the elections for a full-term government on Dec. 15. Every time the 27 million Iraqis have been given the chance since Saddam was overthrown, they have voted for self-government and hope over the violence and hatred the 10,000 terrorists offer them. Most encouraging has been the behavior of the Sunni community, which, when disappointed by the proposed constitution, registered to vote and went to the polls instead of taking up arms and going to the streets. Last week, I was thrilled to see a vigorous political campaign, and a large number of independent television stations and newspapers covering it.

"None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country."
Senator Lieberman says that while polls show Americans are increasingly dour about the war effort, Iraqis are very optimistic. “Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today.” Lieberman praises our military troops and their tremendous accomplishments.

Lieberman explains why our effort in Iraq is critical. “We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.”

Lieberman asks “whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this.” He expresses disappointment in Democrats that are more concerned about scoring political points against President Bush and Republicans that are more concerned about their chances in next November’s elections than they are in the long-term security of our nation. He aptly says that it would be “a colossal mistake … for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.”

As I have written before, we have a duty to clean up the mess we’ve got in Iraq. Some may argue that the best way to do that is to run away from it, naively thinking that the terrorists will also leave if we do. Lieberman notes that we have a strategy (forged in part by past mistakes) that is working well and that will lead to victory if we follow it through to its conclusion. President Bush has done what both the U.S. and Iraqi legislatures have asked, and has provided a thorough plan for victory in Iraq and the ultimate redeployment of American forces from Iraq (see here). As the President noted up front, it will still be a long, hard slog. But it is a slog we must endure.

1 comment:

Citizen 451 said...

Scott, I completely agree with you about staying in Iraq. We made the mess; we've got to see it through.

I'm wondering, though, whether our invasion of Iraq complied with the revelations given in Section 98. If so, how?

I fully supported invading both Afghanistan and Iraq, but now I can't reconcile our invasions with Section 98. Any thoughts?