I am constantly amazed that in the ongoing debate over the Iraq War the central question that ought to drive our decision is seldom considered. We focus on the difficulties in staying the course and achieving the mission, but rarely discuss the consequences of abandoning it. This is sheer insanity.
Following General David Petraeus' congressional testimony and based on his recommendations, President Bush outlined his plan to reduce troop levels in Iraq to their pre-surge levels by next summer. Quite predictably, Democrats immediately proclaimed their opposition to the plan.
In the face of this impressive report and General Petraeus' stellar reputation for competence and good character, I can think of only a few reasons Democrats would remain in obstruction mode.
Sadly, Democrats have boxed themselves into a defeat scenario, having placed every single one of their eggs in that basket since before the 2006 elections.
If they suddenly begin supporting the war effort they'll be wiping those eggs on their faces and admitting the error and unfairness of their ongoing criticisms of President Bush. They will also be placing themselves in other boxes: the dog houses of MoveOn.org, Daily Kos and other rabid antiwar groups pulling their puppet strings of failure.
Their suggestion that General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are dishonest mouthpieces for the administration is nothing more than a case of psychological projection of their own predicament.
It was hard not to be persuaded by the sober, balanced testimony of these two gentlemen -- so much so that even wobbly, reluctant Republican Senators have returned to supporting the mission. But Democrats, led by Senator Harry Reid and the slew of Democratic presidential candidates, remain wholly intransigent in their opposition.
The surge has yielded significant military successes, beyond our rosiest expectations. The Democrats' goal post-shifting response is that despite any military gains, we are making no progress politically.
But many believe the government is making progress, though not nearly as much as would occur absent the underlying climate of violence. Military progress is an essential predicate to political progress, and we are establishing that predicate. In addition, as General Petraeus noted, it's not an insignificant "political" development that local tribes have begun to turn against Al Qaeda in support of our troops and the new government.