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22/05: Common Sense

Posted by: A Waco Farmer
You have heard all this before. In fact, I have written all this before--but It is always nice to hear some plain sense from someone you don't expect.

Excerpts from Bob Kerrey's MUST READ op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today:

The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were "over there." It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the "head of the snake." But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.

As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."

This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn't have lasted a week.

The American people will need that consensus regardless of when, and under what circumstances, we withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.

The article in its entirety here.
Watching Fox News Sunday this morning:

Chis Dodd: The American people are so far ahead of Washington on this issue. They want a change in policy, a change in direction (full transcript here).

Dodd is only half right. Not to belabor an old point, but there is no polling data that indicates that a majority of Americans want to lose the Battle for Iraq.

Here is what America really wants:

Substitute "progress" for change and insert "right" before direction, and I think you have it.

Americans desperately want progress in the right direction.

Americans want peace, freedom, and prosperity for Iraq and its citizenry.

Much more importantly, Americans want to stop thinking about Iraq. Americans want a cessation to the killing of American servicemen in Iraq.

But, to repeat, we the people are not actually calling for surrender, regional chaos, and Iranian hegemony, all of which would likely follow our retreat out of the Middle East.

An Aside: The Democrats in Washington and on the far left are united in their rhetoric that we must leave Iraq. President Bush and his supporters remain steadfast in their mantra that we must win the Battle of Iraq.

An Obvious Compromise Solution: win and leave.

Embedded in the hearts and minds of most Americans, at least on some level, is the realization that they we must mete out a defeat to the forces of Islamism in Iraq. If Islamic holy war against the West emerges victorious in this theater, American interests suffer a debilitating blow. American defeat will bring disastrous consequences.

The Democrats are playing a dangerous and destructive political game building their future on American failure in Iraq.

The Good News for George Bush, the Republican Party and the United States of America: all the President needs to do to save us all is win. Winning has always been the key; it still is. A win in Iraq saves the Bush legacy, the Republican Party, and America.

The Bad News: The President has known this equation for four years, and we are where we are.