Iraq is a stumbling block for Democrats. They tend to view every foreign policy issue through their self-stained Iraq lens. Their manufactured fixation over whether we were justified in attacking Iraq obscures their view of the war on terror and the magnitude of the global terrorist threat.
Democrats often charge that if President Bush just hadn't attacked Iraq, the United States would have ample resources to deal with other threats in the world, like Iran and North Korea. Because our military assets are tied up in Iraq we can't effectively deter dictatorial mischief from Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
This criticism is disingenuous, since Democrats probably wouldn't favor tough action against either tyrant anyway. Besides, President Bush is nowhere close to issuing military threats against either one of these rogue regimes. While he wisely won't rule out the military option, he has been emphasizing diplomatic solutions, as well as sanctions.
He has steadfastly insisted on a multilateral approach to both nations against opposition from Democrats who have mystifyingly demanded that we elevate the stature of their dictators by meeting alone with each of them. President Bush has refused to exclude from the talks the other nations, who, according to Condoleezza Rice, arguably have a greater immediate stake in them than we do.
Democrats, on the other hand, have demonstrated the insincerity of their criticism of Bush for "going it alone" against Iraq, not only because it is patently and empirically false, but because they obviously have no philosophical affinity to multilateralism, nor any fear of alienating our allies as they claim. The only thread of consistency in their approach to diplomacy is their unwavering opposition to President Bush.
But if our diplomatic efforts and sanctions ultimately fail, will we be in a weaker position to deal with the Iranian and North Korean threats than we would have been had we not attacked Iraq?
It's certainly easy to jump to the superficial conclusion that our military demands in Iraq would make military action and thus deterrence-aimed threats of military action against either nation much more difficult, though many experts doubt that action against either would involve "boots on the ground."
But what about the other side of the coin? What if we hadn't removed Saddam and he was on his way to developing nuclear capabilities, not to mention chemical and biological? Can you imagine the predicament we would be in if Iraq had become a nuclear power, supporting and supplying terrorists in the global jihad? Forget the controversy over whether Saddam had WMD. Secret documents we obtained after our invasion make clear that he never deviated from his quest to acquire nuclear weapons and missile delivery technology.
The Democrats' hang-up on Iraq exacerbates their underestimation of the global terrorist threat. Their mantra is that if we hadn't attacked Iraq, we could better deal with the real terrorists in Afghanistan. John Kerry even suggested the other day that terrorists are in 65 nations because
The implication is that if we hadn't attacked Iraq and had focused on capturing or killing Osama, the terrorist threat would be all but over. Even now, if we would just withdraw, the terrorist threat to the United States would be dramatically reduced.
But Democrats refuse to comprehend that Islamic extremists were already at war with us before we attacked Iraq and no amount of appeasement short of our wholesale conversion to radical Islam would have enabled us to escape their violent wrath. Iraq or no Iraq, we were already in the midst of a 50- to 100-yearlong war on terror. Foregoing Iraq would not have given us a get-out-of-war-free card. We never had that option.
Our attack on Iraq certainly hastened and accelerated the hostilities in that theater, because the jihadists weren't about to allow Iraq to taste freedom and self-rule at the behest of the Great Satan. But we did not start this war on terror, we didn't provoke the 9/11 attacks, and we didn't start hostilities against the terrorists in Iraq.
If we withdraw before Iraqi forces can defend their new government, catastrophic consequences will reverberate throughout the world -- way beyond Iraq. Iraq will become a terrorist-sponsoring hotbed for global jihad and a springboard for incalculable Middle East instability. The global jihadists will be emboldened with this major victory and the war will be prolonged indefinitely as a result.
Before "shock and awe," Democrats had impaired vision concerning the nature and scope of the global terrorist threat. But since then, Iraq has become their blinding obsession. If they were naively oblivious to the threat before, they are recklessly obtuse today.