Rumsfeld noted how the enemy uses our media to undermine American resolve, "planning attacks to gain the maximum media coverage and the maximum public outcry." And then, most importantly, he said: "If we left Iraq prematurely - as the terrorists demand - the enemy would tell us to leave Afghanistan and then withdraw from the Middle East. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us - and all those who don't share their militant ideology - to leave what they call occupied Muslim lands, from Spain to the Philippines, and then we would face not only the evil ideology of these violent extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do."
For those who claim Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terrorism, Rumsfeld noted, "This enemy has called Iraq the central front in the war on terrorism."
During World War II, U.S. and German forces fought the battle of Hurtgen Forest. It began Sept. 19, 1944 and ended Feb. 10, 1945. That was one battle in a strategically insignificant corridor of barely 50 square miles east of the Belgium-Germany border. The Germans inflicted more than 24,000 casualties on American forces, while another 9,000 Americans were sidelined due to illness, fatigue and friendly fire. Had live TV beamed this battle to America, there might have been an outcry that the policy was failing and somehow a cease-fire and an accommodation with Hitler should be achieved. Amer
ica won that war because the objective wasn't to understand the Nazis, or to reach an accommodation with them; the objective was to win the war. Anything less in this war - against an equally evil and unrelenting enemy - will mean defeat for the United States and for freedom everywhere. That's what Rumsfeld was getting at when he said, "We can persevere in Iraq or we can withdraw prematurely, until they force us to make a stand nearer home. But make no mistake: They are not going to give up, whether we acquiesce in their immediate demands or not."
Rumsfeld is right.
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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