Frank Gaffney
?Stop the world, I want to get off? was once the title of a popular theatrical comedy. Today, it seems to be the mantra of Democratic Senator Teddy Kennedy of Massachusetts and others who are demanding that the United States have an ?exit strategy? from Iraq. Senator Kennedy has even announced that its first step should be the immediate withdrawal of 12,000 troops.

The problem is, exit to where? The truth is, whether we like it or not, the United States cannot exit the global war being waged against us by Islamofascist terrorists and their allies, any more than we can stop the world and get off it. In fact, were America actually to heed the siren?s call ? issued by Sen. Kennedy before Sunday?s remarkable election in Iraq made doing so, at least for the moment, unimaginable ? and retreat from the Iraqi front in that war, it would simply assure that we will be fighting these enemies far closer to home and, indeed, in all likelihood here.

Let?s be clear: The discredited Left, epitomized by Sen. Kennedy, proposes a reprise of their cut-and-run exit strategy in Vietnam. Just leave and if somebody else wants to take over ? say, the United Nations ? so be it.

But, whether the UN or anybody else is willing and able to help secure and stabilize Iraq, according to this view, is not our concern. We simply no longer have the stomach for the effort to which a far greater Kennedy, President John F., and his incumbent successor have pledged our national prestige and resources: Standing with those who seek freedom and against their oppressors. The lesser Kennedy seems fully prepared to cut our losses and have the Devil (or at least a Saddam-like version of him) take the hindmost.

More sophisticated and putatively more responsible would-be exiters (including some oft-quoted Republican ones) are not prepared, for the moment, to demand the immediate withdrawal of American forces. Yet, they provide political cover for those who do by suggesting that leaving on some timetable governed not by the situation on the ground but by our desire to be done with Iraq is morally defensible and strategically sound.

Both strains of exit strategists are taking heart from opinion polls suggesting that growing numbers of Americans are similarly minded. While their campaign may be temporarily set back by the January 30th elections? dramatic affirmation of the Iraqi people?s desire to be free, the exiteers seem to hope that continuing violence there will inexorably translate popular weariness and frustration here into irresistible pressure for the withdrawal of our forces. For some at least, the fact that the Nation would thus suffer an epic strategic defeat is less important than is their ambition to deal President Bush a politically crippling one.

Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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