Exposing Al Qaeda as the main catalyst for the war militates against concluding this has been a civil war as opposed to terrorist activity and ethnic conflict escalated to violence largely at the instigation of Al Qaeda and other outside forces. It also proves that Iraq truly is part of the War on Terror -- if we need further proof than Al Qaeda's blood commitment to our defeat in Iraq.
In Iraq, Al Qaeda is not just fighting over Middle Eastern real estate but is also testing our resolve in the War on Terror. Al Qaeda knows, even if some of us don't, that the outcome in Iraq will greatly affect the outcome of the larger WOT. If Al Qaeda drives us out -- by wearing down our will -- it will take that as a green light to attack us and our interests elsewhere, just as with Mogadishu.
Our victory will also turn on its head the Democrats' claim that Iraq serves as Al Qaeda's best recruitment tool. Regardless of whether our attacking Iraq stimulated Al Qaeda recruitment, cutting and running at Al Qaeda's behest would seal the deal. Conversely, it will greatly demoralize Al Qaeda if we defeat it in Iraq, especially with the help of Iraqis.
The Democratic leadership is way too invested in defeat to climb on board the reality train now. But Republicans should use this favorable Petraeus report to insist that we change the terms of the debate on Iraq.
Republicans have been far too defensive about Iraq and thus too malleable to Democratic demands that we begin withdrawal. If the mission is as important as we claim, we should refuse to allow consideration of the withdrawal date to be the focal point of the debate.
Instead, we should be concentrating on achieving a victory in Iraq -- for as long as it takes -- because a victory there is essential to our victory in the War on Terror. The better we fare in Iraq, the safer we'll be going forward -- no matter how adamantly Democrats deny it.