Those who would impose a timetable rather than seek victory have an obligation to say what they believe will follow precipitous withdrawal. If it's disaster for the Iraqis and for us, will they take full responsibility? Quitting before a stable democracy and self-sufficient Iraqi military is in place isn't a strategy. It is surrender. Some of the same House Democrats calling for a pullout didn't have the guts to vote on a House resolution proposing exactly that course of action. The GOP majority forced an on-the-record vote last week. Rather than voting their supposed "consciences," most Democrats ran for cover and voted against the measure, which was defeated 403-3. Democrats, who have been playing nothing but politics since President Bush's approval numbers began to sink, accuse Republicans of playing politics. No they weren't. Republicans simply gave Democrats an opportunity to put their votes where their mouths have been. That they didn't do so exposes their political motives.
The biggest turncoat is former President Bill Clinton, who not only spoke out against the war and a sitting president, but also did it on Arab soil. As usual, Clinton tried to have it both ways, telling students at the American University in Dubai, it's a "good thing" Saddam is gone, "but I don't agree with what was done." Does Clinton think more diplomacy and toothless resolutions would have done the job? He didn't when he was president. On Oct. 31, 1998, President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, saying, "The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian makeup. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else."
He sounds like President Bush, who has adopted similar language. The hypocrisy of it all has escaped Bush-bashing Democrats.
Iraq isn't a political beanbag. This is a world war, the results of which can only end in defeat for one side. There is no "coming home" from this war. We are engaged whether we like it or not. Religious fanatics aren't going to participate in a U.S.S. Missouri moment, signing documents of surrender. They must be crushed and demoralized so that they will have no hope in this life or the next of achieving their dreams of a worldwide caliphate. Those are the stakes. Democrats had better ask themselves whether politics or national survival means more to them and what actions and words help or harm America and our troops.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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