De­feat, re­treat and re­peat

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Cal Thomas

For the sake of ar­gu­ment, let’s say for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor Ge­orge Tenet is right in his book and that Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney pushed too hard with ques­tion­able or in­ac­cu­rate intelligence be­cause of a pre­dis­po­si­tion to go to war in Iraq and top­ple Sad­dam Hus­sein. So what? We can’t go back and fix the mis­takes of the past. Only two choices are avail­able: vic­tory or de­feat.

Let us as­sume the Demo­cratic left is right and we should pull U.S. forces out as early as Oct. 1, or per­haps a few months later, but cer­tainly be­fore the next pres­i­dent takes of­fice, be­cause the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy in Iraq has com­pletely failed and, in the words of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, “the war is lost.”

What next? Does the United States not suf­fer a loss of cred­i­bil­ity in the world’s eyes for again fail­ing to fin­ish a job it started? Do the mil­lions who voted for the first elected gov­ern­ment in Iraq con­clude they risked their lives for noth­ing? What would be the con­se­quences of pulling out be­fore Iraq is sta­bi­lized suf­fi­ciently to stand on its own? And, most im­por­tantly, what would a U.S. re­treat do to the con­fi­dence of the en­emy that wishes to dom­i­nate the world by force?

We have the an­swer to that last ques­tion. State­ments declar­ing all but vic­tory for the Is­lamists are posted on nu­mer­ous Is­lamic Web sites. Var­i­ous state­ments by Amer­i­can lead­ers crit­i­cal of the war are cited as ev­i­dence that the United States is about to quit. Ubaidah Al-Saif, who is as­so­ci­ated with Al-Fajr Me­dia in Iraq, as part of what is called “the Is­lamic State of Iraq,” said on April 25: “The plans of the cross wor­ship­pers and their hench­men have col­lapsed.” He quotes “House Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid” (he means Se­nate ma­jor­ity leader) as say­ing, “The Iraqi war is hope­less and the sit­u­a­tion in Iraq is the same as it was in Viet­nam.”

Al-Saif de­clares Amer­i­can morale is de­clin­ing and “[. . .] our bat­tle against the en­emy is first and fore­most the will to fight and the length of the bat­tle does not rest with the cross wor­ship­pers.” He calls for his fight­ers to “be pa­tient” and Al­lah will give them vic­tory. Pa­tience is not one of Amer­ica’s virtues.

Do the war’s op­po­nents re­al­ize, or care, that ev­ery crit­i­cal state­ment they make is re­ported by the en­emy’s me­dia and passed on to homi­cide bombers and fight­ers to en­cour­age them to keep killing Amer­i­cans and Iraqis?

The of­fi­cial Pales­tinian Author­ity broad­cast me­dia have cranked up hate pro­pa­ganda against Amer­ica, Is­rael and Jews. On April 22, in ad­di­tion to the usual scenes of “mar­tyred” fe­male homi­cide bombers clad in white and float­ing benef­i­cently across the screen, view­ers were treated to this: “Be cer­tain that Amer­ica is on its way to ut­ter de­struc­tion, Amer­ica is wal­low­ing [in blood] to­day in Iraq and Afghanistan, Amer­ica is de­feated and Is­rael is de­feated, and was de­feated in Le­banon and Pales­tine. [. . .] Make us vic­to­ri­ous over the com­mu­nity of in­fi­dels. [. . .] Al­lah, take the Jews and their al­lies, Al­lah, take the Amer­i­cans and their al­lies. [. . .] Al­lah, an­ni­hi­late them com­pletely and do not leave any­one of them.”

That’s not de­feat and re­treat talk. That’s the talk of vic­tory and self-con­fi­dence.

In an April 26 op-ed in The Wash­ing­ton Post, Sen. Joseph Lieber­man, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat — a lonely voice within his party be­cause he fa­vors vic­tory for our side and for Iraq’s elected gov­ern­ment — said that while progress is slow, it is vis­i­ble but will take more time. He said even if Iraq’s Sun­nis, Shi’ites and Kurds were to achieve a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to­mor­row, the threat of al Qaeda would not go away.

Mr. Lieber­man con­cludes: “The chal­lenge be­fore us, then, is whether we re­spond to al Qaeda’s bar­barism by run­ning away, as it hopes we do — aban­don­ing the fu­ture of Iraq, the Mid­dle East and ul­ti­mately our own se­cu­rity to the very peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for last week’s atroc­i­ties — or whether we stand and fight.” Mr. Lieber­man has cho­sen to “stand and fight and win,” which is bet­ter than de­feat, re­treat and hav­ing to re­peat the bat­tle some­where else against a much stronger en­emy, with many more ca­su­al­ties.

It’s shame­ful that so many Democrats run­ning for pres­i­dent ap­pear ready to ac­cept de­feat and re­treat if it ad­vances their pres­i­den­tial prospects, no mat­ter the prospects for the se­cu­rity of Iraq, the Mid­dle East and the United States.

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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