While there is plenty of room for robust debate about Iraq, what concerns me is that the direction of this discussion has, ironically, taken our eyes off the real ball, which is our national security.
Don't get me wrong. I believe the Iraq war has everything to do with our national security. How we proceed -- whether we maintain sufficient forces there to ensure the nation's long-term stability or prematurely withdraw with reckless disregard for the consequences -- is critically relevant to our national security.
But instead of focusing on the national security implications, we are perennially bogged down in quibbling over the partisan flash points of whether we should have attacked Iraq in the first place or whether we're being perceived as liberators or imperialists.
Have any of the Democratic presidential candidates ever been asked, for example, whether they've considered the consequences of withdrawing our troops according to an arbitrary time schedule they have fashioned for political purposes?
They are forever excused for dodging this question on the illogical basis that the consequences of a precipitous withdrawal are not their responsibility. They didn't get us into this war in the first place (allowing here, of course, for a willing suspension of disbelief as to Hillary's assertion that she was deceived into voting for the Iraq war resolution).
Also, the media gives Democrats a free ride on this point because of their shared assumption that we stirred up an Islamist hornet's nest by invading Iraq. As such, withdrawal can't possibly produce negative security consequences because it would reverse that reason for Islamist angst against us.
And don't forget that Democrats refuse to discern that Iraq is a part of the war on terror and so, regardless of the specific consequences to Iraq if we hastily withdraw, it will not impact our national security significantly.
By contrast, I think most Republicans, in varying degrees, believe Iraq is part of the war. Even if we were wrong about Saddam's Iraq being a terrorist-sponsoring state at the time we attacked -- which I strongly reject -- our terrorist enemies have made it their business to make Iraq part of the war.
Both al-Qaida, our primary jihadist enemy, and Iran, an undeniably terrorist-sponsoring state, are committed to defeating America in Iraq and thwarting the new Iraqi government. Al-Qaida's global war against us will persist, irrespective of our invasion of or withdrawal from Iraq.