Frank Gaffney
When the history of this era is written, it will be clearer than it is now what steps made a difference in the course of the present, global conflict – the War for the Free World. Even now, however, it seems safe to say that two initiatives qualify, one in the negative sense, the other in a positive one.

The first is the effort led principally by Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senators John Kerry and Carl Levin aimed at ending the U.S. involvement in Iraq. While the particulars of the several proposals debated on both sides of Capitol Hill over the past fortnight differ, what they have in common is unmistakable: They signaled to friends and foe alike, in Iraq and elsewhere, that the United States may prove once again to be an unreliable ally.

To be sure, the Democrats’ measures were all defeated, some more soundly than others. And the positions that prevailed in each case – with at least some Democratic support – can properly be described by Republicans as evidence that those who would have us “cut-and-run” remain a minority and are not calling the shots in Congress.

Unfortunately, the effect that matters – perhaps historically so – at the moment is not in Washington; it is in Iraq. There on Sunday, the new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, unveiled a controversial 24-point “reconciliation” plan. It would involve, among other things, amnesty for those who are deemed not to have committed "crimes and clear terrorist actions," including attacks on fellow Iraqis and Coalition forces. The plan also calls for compensation to be paid to "those who were killed by Iraqi and American forces."

Early reports indicated that Mr. al-Maliki’s amnesty proposal would apply to those responsible for attacks on American forces as well. Naturally, this repugnant idea precipitated a bipartisan firestorm of criticism in Washington. Curiously, among the most vociferous of critics were those like Sen. Levin, who declared on Fox News Sunday: "For heaven's sake, we liberated that country. We got rid of a horrific dictator. We've paid a tremendous price. More than 2,500 Americans have given up their lives. The idea that they should even consider talking about amnesty for people who have killed people who liberated their country is unconscionable."

Sen. Levin’s high dudgeon is understandable. But it is truly unconscionable that he fails to acknowledge the contribution he and like-minded legislators have played in the consideration of such an idea by the new Iraqi government. After all, it is surely in part a response to the perception of impending abandonment by the United States.

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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