Democratic leaders were quick to criticize President Bush’s plan to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq, demanding instead that the troops be withdrawn (or, to use the current euphemism, “redeployed”). The withdrawal of American troops is synonymous, in the minds of the President’s critics, with “ending the war in Iraq”.
The difficulty is obvious, except to the Democrats. The “war in Iraq” is a war of Sunni insurgents and Iranian proxies who are trying to overthrow the government of Iraq and install something different. The Sunni insurgents will install a new version of Saddam Hussein; the Shiite insurgents will install a local version of the Iranian theocracy. Withdrawing American troops will therefore not “end the war”; it will simply enable the enemies of the Iraqi government to win. The only uncertainty is which enemies will win, and how many will die in the process.
We are on the defensive in this war, along with the Iraqi government: that is, we are trying to defend, or to conserve, something, that others are trying to destroy. Do the Democrats have anything to say about this effort? Do they support it? Do they wish it could succeed? Are they convinced (sadly) that it cannot? Would they like to do something else instead? These are the questions that a loyal opposition might ask if it were interested in succeeding. But ever since the war began, Democrats in Congress and in the media have been insisting that the war should never have been fought at all. In order to make this argument convincing, they have insisted that the President lied about Iraq’s weapons, including its nuclear program, and about Bin Laden’s connections to Hussein. Since the President lied to get us into Iraq, it makes no sense for us to stay. It is therefore impossible for the Democrats to consider the possibility of success in Iraq, for to consider such a thing would be to acknowledge that success might be worth pursuing. But how can it be, since (according to the critics) Iraq never presented a threat?
This is the box the Democrats have put themselves in; it is why they have nothing to say about Iraq, or about the Iranian nuclear program, or about Syria and Lebanon, or about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The denial about Hussein requires a denial about everything that has been going on in the Middle East for at least the past decade.
So much for “realism”.
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