Cliff May

Any candidate supporting this approach would have only disdain for such groups as which this week accused General David Petraeus of "betrayal" for refusing to accept defeat in the Battle of Iraq

After Gen. Petraeus' initial testimony, both the Washington Post and the Washington Times headlined his support for troop reductions next year. But, by definition, a "surge" subsides. Petraeus has always intended to transfer responsibility for security to Iraqis – he just wants to decide when and where, based on conditions on the ground, not legislation passed in Washington.

The New York Times, whose editorial page views are hardly distinguishable from those of, was closer to identifying the news in Petraeus' report. Its top story: "Petraeus Warns Against Quick Pullback in Iraq." It should not require a Churchill to see that if American forces leave Iraq precipitously, America's enemies will fill the vacuum. And Iraqis who have been fighting with us will be slaughtered. People around the world will get the joke: To be America's friend is more perilous than to be America's enemy.

The real news in Petraeus' testimony: Americans troops have been beating al-Qaeda in Iraq and, as that job gets done, it is Iranian-backed militias that are becoming the main problem that needs to be eliminated. The regime in Tehran wants Iraq as its colony. It doesn't want Iraq to be an America ally in the war with Militant Islamism.

On several occasions over the past three decades, Tehran has sent murderers to kill Americans. On none of those occasion has the United States responded forcefully. The mullahs are betting there will be no break with that precedent – not by the current occupant of the Oval Office and not by whoever replaces him in 2009.

I suspect more than a few Americans would vote for a candidate who tells us the mullahs are dead wrong.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.