Debra J. Saunders
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The smartest woman in America, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., declared that she was wrong to believe "the president when he said he would go to the United Nations and put inspectors into Iraq to determine whether they had WMD." That's odd because the congressional resolution for which she voted in October 2002 didn't promise to send inspectors to Iraq. A small hint that the resolution was not about inspections can be found in its title, "Joint Resolution for the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq."

Also during Thursday night's MSNBC Democratic presidential primary debate, former Sen. John Edwards said: "I was wrong to vote for this war. Unfortunately, I will have to live with that forever. And the lesson I learned from it is to put more faith in my own judgment."

Does that make any sense?

As the Senate voted 51-46 for a measure to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq no later than Oct. 1, an air of unreality permeated the debate. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson both pledged to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq -- the Senate measure would allow some U.S. troops to remain to pursue terrorist organizations and train and equip Iraqi security forces -- and then touted their plans to call on the international community to place international peacekeeping forces in Iraq.

Fascinating, but I have to wonder: After a U.S. pullout, which country would provide those fine international peacekeeping troops? France? The next time that Democrats debate, here are two questions I would like to hear: One, what will happen in Iraq if Congress wins its troop-withdrawal timetable? Two, will remaining U.S. troops be more or less secure? Not that I'd expect an honest answer.

Indeed, it ought to concern the voting public that the Democrats apparently don't have enough confidence in their stand on Iraq to speak plainly about it.

In a recent interview on CNN before the debate, Senate Majority Leader Harry ("the war is lost") Reid of Nevada, insisted, "I agree with Gen. (David) Petraeus," the U.S. commander in Iraq -- about the fact that the Iraq war must be won politically. And, "He's the man on the ground there now."

Reid not only misrepresented Petraeus' position -- Petraeus believes the war must be won politically, but that can't happen until Iraqis feel secure, hence the need for a surge in U.S. troop strength in Iraq -- but also, Reid then declared that he doesn't "believe" Petraeus when the commander says he sees progress in Iraq.

If there is any good news coming out of Iraq, clearly Reid does not want to hear it. What is more, as the antiwar base pushes D.C. Democrats to de-fund the war, the day may come when they get what they want -- a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Then what? On Thursday, two CNN correspondents just back from Iraq -- Kyra Phillips and Michael Ware -- were asked if it would help the situation in Iraq to withdraw U.S. troops.

Phillips responded: "There is no way U.S. troops could pull out. It would be a disaster."

Ware answered, "If you just want to look at it in terms of purely American national interest, if U.S. troops leave now, you're giving Iraq to Iran, a member of President Bush's axis of evil, and al-Qaida. That's who will own it. And so, coming back now, I'm struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, (by) how delusional it is. Whether you are for this war or against it, whether you've supported the way it's been executed or not, it does not matter. You broke it -- you've got to fix it now. You can't leave, or it's going to come and blow back on America."

Ware made news himself when he dismissed GOP Sen. John McCain's assertion that Westerners can walk through some Baghdad neighborhoods unarmed -- Ware wondered if McCain was in "Neverland." McCain later took back those words.

Meanwhile, Ware's claim that Congress is "delusional" likely will garner scant attention.

If the Democrats prevail, more than 3,300 U.S. troops will have died for a war that al-Qaida in Iraq could claim to have won. Many more Iraqi civilians will die, while survivors will be doomed to living with dread and chaos.

And all the Democrats can say is: Time to get out because Bush made me do it.

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Debra J. Saunders


 
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