Thursday, December 14, 2006

Whither now in Iraq?

"[Taliban tribal leaders in Pakistatan] issued a video claiming that the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents were responsible for the Republican defeat in US mid-term elections and that US withdrawl from Afghanistan and Iraq would begin soon."

Regardless of the intent of the American people, and regardless of whether the Republicans deserved to be removed from power in the House and the Senate (they did), the transfer of control of the U.S Congress to the Democrats is viewed by our terrorists enemies worldwide as a sign of weakness on our part and a victory for their strategy of incrementally chipping away at the will of the American people. As much as I dislike Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the weight of the blame for our current state of affairs in Iraq lies elsewhere, primarily with the soon-to-be-departed Secretary of Defense, tossed overboard to lighten the President's load.

Now that they are in power, and not sniping from the sidelines, I sincerely hope that Nancy and Harry (please, God!) are rational and patriotic Americans who realize that a sudden and precipitious withdrawal of our troops from Iraq would be catastrophic to our national interests. I understand that many of their followers feel towards President Bush as I did toward President Clinton in 2000. I understand that they and their followers believe that the Iraq war should never have been inititated, that the war has been poorly managed.

None of those beliefs has anything to do with what we should do in Iraq right now. Bush is still the President and we are heavily engaged in a war that, for better or worse, the success or failure of which will have regional or even global repercussions. This is not an argument about Social Security or health insurance, but national security. A note of caution to the critics of the war: "Be careful what you wish for."

I believe that Nancy and Harry will adopt the motto of the Nixon administration: "Watch we do, not what we say." They will continue to say the right things to placate their extremist supporters, but they won't force the President to withdraw. And President Bush will make a speech to the American people after the New Year announcing a new Iraq policy that is remarkably similar to the current one. He really doesn't have a lot of choice or many options. The choices are Leave or some version of Stay. And this President isn't leaving.

On this point I agree with him. I still believe that the failure of Al Qaeda to attack the United States since 2001 is NOT because of the Department of Homeland Security. I believe it is because of the activities of the Department of Defense in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa and a lot of other places that I don't know about and aren't supposed to know.

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