Democrats did the right thing

To those who see the world through a partisan prism, last week's congressional vote to continue funding American troops in Iraq looks like a loss for Democrats. On the contrary: Those Democrats who refused to legislate an American military defeat — despite intense pressure from a well-financed, well-organized campaign on the left — deserve great credit.

No serious person doubts that America is at war with Islamist movements that seek the West's destruction. Among those movements, none is more threatening than al Qaeda. And al Qaeda's most active and lethal combatants are in Iraq.

Recently, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, sent a letter to Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the leader of al Qaeda forces in Iraq. In it, Zawahiri reassures Muhajer that a great and historic victory is close at hand, that soon America will be driven out of Iraq. Among the tactics that both Zawahiri and Muhajer believe are proving effective: murdering innocent women and children to fuel sectarian strife.

Let's stipulate that had President Bush not toppled Saddam Hussein, most of these al Qaeda terrorists would not be in Iraq, they would be somewhere else. The fact remains: They are in Iraq now. They are there because they regard Iraq — an oil rich capital of the Arab world — as the most important theater in what they say is a global power struggle.

They believe they are eroding our will to fight them in Iraq. And perhaps they are. But if they can achieve that goal in Iraq, is there any reason to think they won't be able to achieve it in other parts of the world as well?

Iran's rulers also are America's enemies. After nearly 30 years it should be obvious that "Death to America!" is not just a catchy slogan: It is a long-term goal. And it is a goal toward which they believe they are progressing because we have done nothing over the past three decades to shake their confidence — not when they seized our embassy and took our diplomats hostage, not when they assigned Hezbollah to slaughter our Marines in Beirut, not when they killed our soldiers at Khobar Towers.

And as they move toward acquiring nuclear weapons, aid and abet those killing our troops in Iraq, and take visiting American scholars hostage, we do next to nothing. To them, it looks like the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the Iranian Islamist revolution, was spot on when he stated: "America cannot do a damn thing."

The history of warfare is marked by innovations: the saddle and stirrup, the long bow, gunpowder, the cannon, mechanized cavalry, aircraft and missiles among them.

America's enemies are now testing an equally revolutionary innovation. They are attempting to discover whether it is possible to defeat a superpower with little except suicide-bombers, roadside explosives detonated by cell phones, and a ferocious will to power. They use these weapons to kill whomever they can: infidels or Muslims, combatants or non-combatants, men, women and children alike.

One might have thought that such indiscriminate slaughter would evoke outrage and defiance within the international community. But the international community is selective about what evokes its outrage: reports (later proved to be false) of American guards at Guantanamo mishandling Korans? Absolutely. Beheadings and illustrated al Qaeda instruction books on torture? That gets a yawn.

Congress has authorized four months of funding for Gen. David Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq. By September, he will need to show that he is making headway with his new strategy of bringing in reinforcements and moving troops out of big bases and into the mean streets of Baghdad and al Qaeda-infested Anbar Province. While he does that, Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, must push as hard as he can to get Iraq's leaders to make risky compromises and assume heavy responsibilities.

Was it a mistake to invade Iraq? A majority of Americans now think it was. Some charge that Bush misled us; some believe he was misled. Others believe that Bush underestimated our enemies, and overestimated the abilities of his intelligence gatherers and analysts, Pentagon planners and State Department nation-builders.

That issue will be debated for generations. Right now, the more pressing question is this: How do we prevail in Iraq, understanding that failure would be a body blow to America's security and vital interests? The answer, at least in part, is by giving Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker the support they require — not signaling to al Qaeda and Iran that they are only a few more suicide-bombings away from a great and historic victory.

(Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.)

Comments

  1. Jellicoe

    What planet does Mr. May come from (and why does he repeat, echo chamber-like — as if god-given truth — the lies that are being broadcast 24/7 by the government and its allies in this hideous excuse for a functioning democracy), and why is he being given access to the public on this website? Shame for this and other articles of similar import that have been sneaking into this website ever since the new management took over. Why not just sell out to the WSJ and retire? — Disappointed daily reader.

  2. Access Of Evil

    Last day of May now.

    We gave Dumbass the money to support a surge and May became the third deadliest month for US troops in the history of the debacle.

    A general on CNN explained it:

    “We’re sending more troops into more dangerous places, and encountering more firefights. That means more trooops can expect to be killed.”

    PJ O’Rourke is right: “It’s cheaper to pay for the oil than it is to steal it.”

  3. wiseoldgranny

    What would happen if he were to go to Iraq …..unembedded……rather than just using the same old talking points and rhetoric?

    What ever happened to facts? Who are our troops fighting in Iraq? Sunnis? Shia? Insurgents? Who are they? 90% of the killed are civilians. When they kick down doors while people are sleeping, arrest people, take them to prison, torture and/or kill them without warrants or charges. How do they know who they are? When they bomb villages and cities, how do they, get only the ‘bad guys’?

    bush will not pull out the troops now, the Iraqis haven’t signed the ‘oil bill’, yet. You know, the one giving 80% of Iraqi oil to US multi-nationals. They haven’t finished the largest ’embassy’ in the world, yet. They haven’t finished all of the permanent bases that congress forbid them to build.

    bush will not pull them out even when this is all done.The troops will have to stay and die, for US (our?) interests. Why? Because, as soon as the US pulled out, the Iraqis would throw out the US installed puppet government, and take back their assets, natural resources and their country.

    Who will we be losing to? Terrorists? No one has said to quit fighting terrorists. But, the Sunnis, the Shia, the insurgents, are not the terrorists!! They are Iraqis fighting for their country and it’s people, no different than any patriotic American would do, if the Russians had done to us, what we have done to Iraq.

    We have devastated a whole country, 2 million Iraqi refugees, almost 1 million dead Iraqis, 1 1/2 million displaced Iraqis in Iraq. God only knows, how many wounded seriously.

    3475 dead American troops, 25,242 wounded American troops, God only knows how many with brain damage and/or uranium poisoning, uncounted. 1 1/2 trillion spent out of the national treasury.

    Who would we be losing to? They figured that about 3% of the fighters in Iraq were terrorists. What if we bombed LA to get the gangs? Ireland to get the IRA terrorists? Chicago to get the mafia? With depleted uranium, phosphorus, and cluster bombs? Have we gone crazy?

    So if you walk away from a huge gang fight and let the police take care of it, are you weak? Or do you wait to fight your own battles and make sure you are on the right side and protecting the right people with every bit of strength you have?

  4. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Mr. May, you say Al Qaeda leaders are salavating about being just a few
    suicide-bombers away from victory.

    The Defense Intelligence Agency eastimated that Al Qaeda represents only 5% percent of insurgent activity, and that there effect on the occupation troops is
    negligible.

    But OK, since your so focused on a negligble threat, will follow your thread.

    Republikan administrations have had it both ways with Islamic factions; the Afghan Services Bureau founded by Osama Bin Laden in 1984 which was created to fund the Afghani resistance against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Afghan Services Bureau, the forerunner to Al Qaeda was the dance partner of Ronnie Raygun.

    And of course during the Iraq/Iran War the Ronnie Raygun administration provided bucks to both sides. Iran being primarily Shite and a funder of Hezbollah which killed our GI’s in Lebanon in 1983.

    In Lebanon right now Mr. Bush is sending bonus bucks to
    Prime Minister Fouad Sinior who is Sunni, who is giving those Bonus Bucks to Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, and in the Bekaa Valley that have
    ideological ties with Al Qaeda. These Sunni groups are funded as a buffer against Hezbollah. These Sunni groups hate Hezbollah, but they hate Americans even more.

    The Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, has very close ties to the Iranian
    Government which supports Hezbollah.

    Another partner of Bush, Prince Bandar, is Saudi; Saudi Arabia has a majority of Sunnis in its population. Prince Bandar who is the Saudi national-security adviser and close friend of the Bush family has informed Bush that if he
    re-deploys US troops out of Iraq, letting the Shites have control, that Saudi Arabia will fund Sunni Insurgents against the government of Nouri al-Maliki.

    Bottom Line Mr. May. Just what the hell do you mean about the US prevailing
    militarily in Iraq. I still don’t know what that means. We won the War, it is now an occupation in the middle of a civil war. What exactly does Bush have to show
    for in the fifth year of this occupation. Iraqis dying by the hundreds every day, with very limited clean drinking water, and electricity at pre-war levels. A barrel of oil before the war was $18.00 and now its $70.00 a barrel. This war is a boon
    to Haliburton and all the other slut contracting companies filling their pockets
    with taxpayer bucks.

    This Godamn war is of no benefit to this country. This war is well on its way to
    bankrupting our nation so the Neo-Cons can destroy any remnants of the New Deal and Great Society domestic programs which is in the cross hairs of the Leo Strauss inspired Nut Cases to destroy.

  5. Even Steven Monton

    Dems and Repubs…….one beast with two heads.

    An illusion, that’s what the difference between Dems and Repubs is, just look at the results. The results speak for themselves.

    I’ll say it again….THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES!

    What have they promised, and what have they actually delivered?

    The democrats and their non-binding resolutions are nothing but a miserable disappointment to those who voted for them in hopes that the new members would actually represent the peoples wishes, and change the direction of this failed neocon agenda.

    The neocon agenda has been a massive failure for the USA.

    Then again, if the neocon agenda was to try and cripple the USA financially, governmentally (and the peoples faith in government with scandals), militarily, while destroying our good standing in the eyes of the world…..then it has been a marvelous success.

    It couldn’t have continued (this long), if not for the Democrats incompetence (intended or otherwise), failing on EVERY SINGLE one of thier chances to make a change in the direction US foreign policy has taken for the past six (or so) years.

    I don’t know everything about foreign policy, and I do not have “insider info” or am privy to classified documents, but when I see my countrymen (and women) dying, the dollar tanking, while prices are rising, the peoples faith in government collapsing, and society as a whole ignoring all of the problems right in front of their eyes…..something is wrong.

    But hey……….Cliff May seems to think everythng’s wonderful.

  6. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Yes! The Damn Dems have screwed the pooch numerous times
    before they got their majority in the House using that as an excuse for not being able to temper Bush, but even after they did wield real capability to bear…

    ‘When danger reared its ugly head, Nancy & Harry turned and fled’

    -Brave -Brave -Brave -Brave Democrats!!!