Even if Democrats know in their heart of hearts that withdrawing too soon will damage our national security, they have a vested interest in stubbornly adhering to their politically advantageous line that we wrongfully attacked Iraq (because Bush allegedly lied about WMD, etc.) and won't give it up. They're not about to forfeit this powerful hammer that can always be used to bludgeon Republicans. And they accuse Bush of politicizing the war!
Unfortunately, timid Republicans -- just as on the issues of race, tax cuts, entitlement reform, health care and others -- too often act ashamed, defeated and apologetic, instead of taking the offensive themselves and shaming the Democrats for their irresponsible positions. Republicans have virtually conceded the high ground on the question of whether we should have attacked Iraq -- although there are dozens of justifications and although most Democrats joined them -- and thus begin at a disadvantage in any discussion about the issue. Almost anything they say on national security matters seems to be tainted by this unspoken and unwarranted concession.
But the paramount issue of our day, and of our future, remains national security. Quite apart from Iraq, the parties have radically different approaches to this issue, and Republicans need to do a better job of articulating the life-and-death distinctions involved.
In a nutshell, Democrats are hard-wired against recognizing the nature, depth and intensity of the Islamist global threat against us. Their addiction to the Western-denigrating nostrums of multiculturalism and distorted notions of "tolerance" prohibit them from perceiving the enormity of the terrorist presence within Islam. Republicans, to a far lesser degree, have been cowed by political correctness into downplaying the threat, as well.
Far too many on the left believe we can find common ground with terrorists and their state sponsors if we will just quit pushing our weight around on the global stage and open a dialogue with tyrants such as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Those possessed of slightly more realism understand that we're in this war for the long haul, Iraq or no Iraq, bases in Saudi Arabia or not, Gitmo or no Gitmo, waterboarding or no waterboarding. We are the infidels -- and that will not change until we are destroyed or submit.
Not until we recognize that -- and it shouldn't have to take another 9/11 to remind us -- can we properly protect ourselves. These are the issues that must be center stage in this election campaign, not whether we were justified in invading Iraq.