The sudden or phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq at this time would be extremely detrimental to the national security of our country and our allies. There. I can't make it any clearer than that.
Forget about what Bush said or didn't say. What Rumsfeld did or didn't do. What the Iraqi people believe or don't believe. What the American people think that they want or don't want. Whether the Democrats or Republicans won the election. Forget about the past (there is too much talk about what happened before). What are we going to do right now?
The facts are clear: most Americans haven't a clue about what is going on in the Iraq, much less the Middle East. All they know is that the situation is very unpleasant and that they would rather that it end sooner rather than later. Look at all the casualties, I hear them say, and the money this is costing and shouldn't we be using our resources to hunt down Osama?
Right now, Iraq is the central battle in the global war on terrorism. Osama said it so it must be true. Osama noticed that when some marines were killed in Beirut that President Reagan soon after pulled them all out. Osama noticed that when some rangers were killed in Mogadishu that President Clinton pulled them all out. Soon afterwards when a shipload of marines approached Port au Prince a crowd of Haitians formed to protest and the ship turned around. Osama noticed that, too.
Regardless of why we got into Iraq, or the mistakes that we made after we got there, the Osama's of this world are watching to see what we are going to do now. Based on past experience, they think that we aren't tough enough. They think that we are soft, and that we don't have the political will to defeat their fanaticism. They think that, ultimately, we will wilt before the intensity of their belief.
There is ample precedent in history for our current situation. On December 16, 1944 Adolph Hitler launched a surprise attack against a weak portion of the Allied line in the Ardenne forest of Belgium. Hitler thought that the advancing democracies to his West were fundamentally weak and that his surprise attack would convince them to sue for peace. The resulting Battle of the Bulge caused over 60,000 U.S. casualties alone, but the soft and coddled American Army defeated the fascist attackers.
When I hear people wonder how we can fight such an unpopular war with the country divided I remember reading the Memoirs of U.S. Grant. As Grant struggled to find a way to envelop Vicksburg he was very aware of the newspaper editors in the north who were continually denouncing his incompetency and calling for his head. When Grant took command of the Army of the Potomac and locked horns with Bobby Lee he had to suffer an order from the War Department asking for troops to suppress New Yorkers rioting against the draft.
Somehow we managed to win both those wars. And we will manage to win this one. We can't afford not to.