Testifying before a Senate Confirmation committee, which leftists have dubbed the "Senate Coronation Committee", Robert Gates was asked if we "are winning the war in Iraq?" My first reaction was "Sir, would you define victory?" That answer wouldn't go over well with the Senators but it is a question that begs for an answer. Platitudes about bringing "freedom and democracy" are no longer adequate.Andrew McCarthy, writing in today's National Review On-line, attempts to re-focus the nation's attention on what "Victory in Iraq" means. He also asks and answers the question of "Do we need more troops? Answer: "For … what?"
So, no, says the president. We are staying in Iraq until we win. Great. But what is winning? What is the “victory” we are seeking?
On this, there is no consensus. That is why Americans have soured on Iraq. History proves that the American people have plenty of stomach for a hard fight, however long it takes, if they understand and believe in what we are fighting for. And this, consequently, is where history will condemn the Bush administration.
Add McCarthy to a growing chorus of conservative voices criticizing the too often "rudderless leadership" particularly since November 2004 through mid 2005 when he says, the President "went dark...was virtually mum on the subject." McCarthy says that the President's prime justification, the Democracy project, is not a goal that the American public would have ever gone to war for. Americans supported the invasion of Iraq because it saw Saddam Hussein and Iraq as a threatening nation-state sponsor of terrorism. McCarthy draws a sharp focus for our presence in Iraq:
McCarthy says that the tunnel vision on Iraq front has cost us in the broader war.
There is only one good reason for American troops to be in Iraq. It is the reason we sent them there in 2003: To fight and win the “war on terror” — i.e., the war against radical Islam — by deposing rogue regimes helping the terror network wage a long-term, existential jihad against the United States.
Iraq is a single front in a much larger war. If we don’t suppress Iran, Syria, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Sunni terror funding stream in Saudi Arabia, we can’t win in Iraq, no matter how victory is defined. You can’t win if you don’t take on the forces determined to see you lose.Most readers of the EB know and understand this just as we also know too many refuse to acknowledge it: McCarthy says:
There is a global jihad. It’s on, now. Like it or not. Rise to the challenge or not. You don’t want war with Iran? Fine. But never forget for a second that Iran is already at war with you.
Sooner or later, we are going to have to match with action the president’s ambitious post-9/11 promises that our enemies would be pursued globally, relentlessly, and until their defeat. Democracy promotion and regional conferences at which we pretend that the problem — Iran — may be the solution are not going to get this done.
If we’re shrinking from the greater war, of course our troops shouldn’t be sitting ducks in Iraq. If we’re not going to turn them loose against the forces that most threaten them, as well as the rest of us, of course we should get them out of there.
Iraq should serve as an example of what happens when we do not press our advantage when we have it. We've given the enemy time to regroup and now whether the reality is as bad as the MSM portray is irrelevant. The momentum is with the other side. Weak, indecisive leadership does not win wars nor does pretending to be at war. Mistakes have been made and the million dollar question is do we have the time, money and will to overcome those mistakes. We have a lot invested in Iraq in three years; billions of dollars, nearly three thousand dead and 22,000 wounded. It would be a shame to see all that wasted by leaving, but staying to install a proxy government for Iran is not "winning the war." Withdrawing from Iraq will not do away with the problem of fundamentalist Islam but staying in Iraq without defining and fighting the enemy isn't a plan for victory either. I agree with McCarthy, if we don't have the stomach to fight, let's bring our troops home, take our lumps, batten down the hatches and regroup.