Donald Lambro

Looking for more confusion within Democratic ranks? Reread Virginia Sen. James Webb's response to Bush's State of the Union address. He called the war "reckless" and "mismanaged," but what would he do differently? Well, he said, we need a new direction, but "not a precipitous withdrawal." On the other hand, we need "a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq."


"Webb's logic was as incoherent as his language (the two are often related)," former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote in Newsweek's website. "Fight the war vigorously -- except where the terrorists have chosen to fight it."

Threaded throughout the war debate was the argument that nothing good has come from the administration's decision to topple a war-making, dictatorial regime that promoted terrorism in all its forms across the Middle East, had gone to war against Iran, took over Kuwait, and then threatened Saudi Arabia. Vice President Cheney sought to put some semblance of balance into the debate last week in a combative interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer who saw nothing but "blunders and failures" in Iraq. Cheney would have none of it, saying the premise of Blitzer's question was "hogwash."

"What we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do. The world is much safer today because of it. There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically elected government. Saddam Hussein has been brought to justice and executed. His government is gone," Cheney said.

Yes we have "ongoing problems" in Iraq, but the bottom line is "we've had enormous successes," Cheney argued.

Certainly, that is true and needs to be added to the scales by which we measure what the war to overthrow a terrorist regime has achieved. Now we are engaged in a wider war against an insurgency that Gen. Petraeus and 21,500 additional troops are being sent in to quell.

The time for evaluating the success or failure of this endeavor will come soon enough, but now is not the time to be sending a message to friend and foe alike that we no longer believe in this mission. Someone should remind the Senate, when it begins its debate this week, that the additional troops Bush is sending in will also help save the lives of the soldiers who are already there.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.