Let’s not for­get al Qaeda is the en­emy in Iraq

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - LAWRENCE KUD­LOW

Our last, best hope in Iraq — Gen. David Pe­traeus — re­minded Pen­tagon re­porters two weeks ago of a crit­i­cally im­por­tant fact long forgotten by most ob­servers: Our real en­emy in Iraq, the of all the mur­ders, may­hem and in­sta­bil­ity, is not sec­tar­ian strife. And it’s not the Sun­nis or the Shi’ites, ei­ther. The real en­emy we face in Iraq is al Qaeda.

Ac­cord­ing to the top Amer­i­can com­man­der in Iraq, al Qaeda’s No. 1 pri­or­ity is de­feat­ing the United States in Iraq. The gen­eral called this or­ga­ni­za­tion “pub­lic en­emy No. 1,” adding that “Iraq is, in fact, the cen­tral front of al Qaeda’s global cam­paign.”

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid doesn’t un­der­stand this. Nor, for that mat­ter, do the other de­featist Democrats care­lessly de­mand­ing our im­me­di­ate with­drawal. They fail to grasp that the root of our prob­lems in Iraq — again, the true source of the hos­til­i­ties — re­mains al Qaeda. Th­ese mur­der­ous thugs are fo­ment­ing the sec­tar­ian strife on both sides of the Iraqi street. Their tac­tic is the nadir of ni­hilism.

In con­trast to the blind Harry

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Reid con­tin­gent, I’d like to high­light one re­mark­ably clear thinker who get what’s go­ing on in this war — some­one who rec­og­nizes the true en­emy and is able to ar­tic­u­late his po­si­tion in breath­tak­ing clar­ity. I’m talk­ing about Sen. Joe Lieber­man of Con­necti­cut. Frankly, no pub­lic of­fi­cial un­der­stands what’s at play bet­ter than Mr. Lieber­man. He set forth his lu­cid po­si­tion in the April 26 edi­tion of The Wash­ing­ton Post and brought it alive when I in-

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ter­viewed him on “Kud­low & Com­pany” later that day.

Mr. Lieber­man force­fully stated that “al Qaeda, af­ter all, isn’t car­ry­ing out mass mur­der against civil­ians in the streets of Bagh­dad be­cause it wants a more eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of oil rev­enue.

Its aim in Iraq isn’t to get a seat at the po­lit­i­cal ta­ble; it wants to blow up the ta­ble along with ev­ery­one seated at it.”

To miss this point is to miss the crux of this con­flict. There can be no doubt about the cen­tral role be­ing played by al Qaeda in this war. Its dom­i­na­tion of the Iraqi theatre is un­mis­tak­able. It is the hinge of this war. And, lest we for­get, th­ese are the same mur­der­ers who bombed us on Septem­ber 11, 2001. They are ter­ror­ists who have made crys­tal clear their in­ten­tion to sub­vert us at ev­ery turn. And make no mis­take about it — they are re­group­ing in or­der to strike us again.

This is why the stakes are so high and why we must not in­ter­rupt the surge. This is why there can never be a so-called “po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment” un­less and un­til the United States can mil­i­tar­ily crip­ple al Qaeda in Iraq. Only then can a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment be reached, one that can pro­vide for a healthy rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment, oil shar­ing, pro­por­tional staffing in min­istries and on down the line.

With­out ques­tion, it is a near cer­tainty that Iran and Syria are help­ing al Qaeda with money, arms and ex­plo­sives. And, yes, if we leave now, al Qaeda will have an open field in which to ex­pand its op­er­a­tions and pre­pare for the ul­ti­mate at­tack on the United States. In fact, the De­fense De­part­ment and the CIA just nabbed a high-rank­ing al Qaeda oper­a­tive known as Ab­dul al Hadi al-Iraqi. He was a key link be­tween the Tal­iban in Afghanistan, al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda mem­bers in Iran. And while it’s great news we got him, he’s one more re­minder that this net­work is strong and play­ing for keeps.

An­other re­al­ity, too of­ten over­looked, is that the United States suc­cess­fully re­moved Sad­dam Hus­sein from the world scene. We ended a ruth­less, tyran­ni­cal dic­ta­tor­ship. We fos­tered three heav­ily par­tic­i­pated elec­tions in Iraq and helped es­tab­lish a new demo­cratic gov­ern­ment in the cen­ter of the Mid­dle East.

Th­ese are im­por­tant ac­com- plish­ments. Yet the stated goal of al Qaeda is to sabotage all of this. Its aim is to pre­vent rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment in the re­gion, since its twisted to­tal­i­tar­ian ide­ol­ogy op­poses such de­vel­oped-world things.

The Harry Reids in Wash­ing­ton don’t get it. They fail to see the ter­ror­ist fin­ger­prints. But when you look at Iraq through the Lieber­man lens, the dust set­tles. The task be­fore us be­comes clearer. Why are we in Iraq? We are fight­ing al Qaeda.

Pe­riod.

A fi­nal ques­tion for Mr. Reid: If, as he says, we have “lost” the Iraq war, who ex­actly has won? Who is the win­ner, Mr. Reid? Who would you like the United States to sur­ren­der to?

It’s not the Sun­nis. It’s not the Ba’athists. It’s not the Shi’ites. And it’s cer­tainly not Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki. In con­ven­tional war­fare terms, Harry Reid is sug­gest­ing we sur­ren­der to al Qaeda.

Does the ma­jor­ity leader of the U.S. Se­nate un­der­stand his own un­think­able con­clu­sion?

Lawrence Kud­low is host of CNBC’s “Kud­low & Com­pany” and is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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