News on the national security front last week provided reason for some cautious optimism. Although a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) notes that the Iraq war may have increased the terrorist threat in the short term, the document likewise points out that a victory in the war would deal a blow to terrorist recruitment in the long run. What’s more, an intercepted Al Qaeda communication revealed that the terrorists themselves believe that they are losing ground in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Taken together, the documents prove definitively that great deal is riding on the outcome of the war in Iraq – and that a defeat for Al Qaeda isn’t only desirable, it’s achievable. But just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes, there’s also more than one way to lose a war.
Tragically, some Democrats seem determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Just last Wednesday, The Hill reported troubling remarks made by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), slated to become the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee if the Democrats retake control of Congress. According to The Hill, Rangel alluded to the possibility of denying funding for the war in order to force an end to it – an objective that would, no doubt, be shared by the 73 Democratic members of the Out of Iraq caucus (which includes eight Democrats in line to chair committees and eight House appropriators). In a floor statement delivered in October of 2005, Senator Patrick Leahy likewise referred to the war’s costs and obliquely threatened to withhold support for future funding.
What’s most troubling about these statements is their historical parallel to America’s defeat in Vietnam. It’s worth pointing out that the United States was not losing the war when it withdrew the troops in 1973. It was only two years later, when the Democratic-controlled Congress eliminated funding for South Vietnam that South was overrun by the Communists. As a result, the United States betrayed an ally and projected an image of weakness and irresolution to the world – an image that only encouraged various Soviet provocations in the years immediately following.