We can't quit now

David Limbaugh

5/18/2004 12:00:00 AM - David Limbaugh

Americans would do well to remember that the war in Iraq is primarily about the long-term security interests of the United States. Our withdrawal now would be disastrous.

Our war against Iraq is part of our larger war on terrorism. Some would have us believe that Iraq represented no threat to the United States either through WMD or as a launching pad for terrorists. They point to the insurgency there now as proof that we stirred up a hornet's nest by invading Iraq.

I think it proves just the opposite: that international and local terrorists consider Iraq indispensable turf in the war on terror. As the deadline for the new government grows near, the level of violence intensifies, which is just further confirmation that the enemy badly wants us -- and the Iraqi people -- to fail.

The Sept. 11 massacres jolted us into the reality that we are not invulnerable to attack on our own land despite our status as the world's lone superpower. It clarified our vision and unified us as a people.

There was very little ambiguity in our national resolve at that moment. I'm sorry to say that is no longer the case today, as increasing numbers of people have acquired cold feet.

We have the mightiest military in the world. But one has to wonder whether we as a people have the stamina to wage a real war of unpredictable duration in the face of inevitable adversity we witness through omnipresent, instantaneous media feeds.

How can we ever dispense with the introspection, hand-wringing and self-flagellation when our media neurotically fixate on our failures and suppress news of the wonderful things we are accomplishing in Iraq?

As a body politic, are we so arrogant and foolish as to think we can wage war like a video game with virtually no difficulties and no real-life consequences? I just have to wonder what the critics expect. What do they think is supposed to happen in war? When we lose soldiers, do we always have to find a scapegoat up the chain of command, instead of acknowledging that war is hell?

I may be part of a small minority with this thought, but I am continually mystified by everyone's rush to find egregious fault with our military and the administration every time we experience the slightest setback.

I don't think, for example, that the confluence of international terrorist thugs in Iraq for this second phase of the war proves we didn't plan well for this war. How could we have known in advance whether these unpredictable people would converge on Iraq with full force between Saddam's ouster and the date set to turn over control to the Iraqis?

Are we supposed to hold our leaders to a standard of perfection and demand clairvoyance from them? Most of the same armchair generals demanding such perfection have been about as imperfect as they could be in their own forecasting and commentary on the war.

Despite the finger-pointing on all sides about what has already happened, we must understand we have no choice but to stay the course. It doesn't matter whether we invaded Iraq; it doesn't matter whether we station troops in Saudi Arabia, it doesn't matter if we support Israel; and it doesn't even matter if we surrender -- these people will continue to try to kill us. We deny that at our peril.

The terrorists hated us long before we rooted them out of Afghanistan, attacked Iraq or abused certain Iraqi prisoners. They will continue to hate us no matter what we do.

The question is whether they will also fear and respect us. If we pull out of Iraq or continue to beat ourselves up over every setback, to the point of demoralizing our troops and our effort there, terrorists everywhere will be energized and pursue us with an even greater vengeance.

We can reawaken to the reality that we're in a war and not a battle for the hearts and minds of terrorists who have no heart and only distorted minds. Or we can put our heads back into our naive shell of denial in our fantasy world of appeasement and expect the very worst to come.

Neither prospect is pretty. Even if we fight as hard as we can with minimal mistakes in planning and execution, we may never entirely eradicate all terrorists. But if we quit -- if we pull out of Iraq -- we can be sure that we will not bequeath to our progeny the America our ancestors bequeathed to us.