Urban legend has it that populations of wild rodents known as lemmings periodically commit mass suicide by throwing themselves off cliffs. In fact, these critters do no such thing. It remains to be seen, however, whether American voters will this Fall do the functional equivalent of the lemming leap: Electing politicians who seductively promise retreat from a strategy of forward defense, thus imperiling large numbers of our countrymen abroad and possibly at home.
No longer are such politicians found only on the far left of the Democratic Party. To be sure, MoveOn.org and its champions in Congress are still among the most vociferous in demanding precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. Now, however, Hillary Clinton – an erstwhile supporter of the liberation of the Iraqi people – has found it necessary to realign with her defeatist base. She evidently hopes to do so without explicitly recanting her vote for the war by helping Ned Lamont defeat Joe Lieberman, a fellow Democrat who remains unrepentant about seeking Saddam Hussein’s overthrow.
So strong is the siren’s call of defeatism at the moment that even some Republicans are succumbing to it. For example, Rep. Chris Shays has just returned from the most recent of many visits to Iraq and joined those declaring that a timetable for beginning to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq must be set, without regard for the conditions on the ground or the consequences of our doing so.
The defeatists typically offer two rationalizations for this course of action. The first contends that we need to retreat so as to compel the Iraqis to make the “tough decisions” about their own future that our presence and support allows them to postpone.
Unfortunately, the decisions that will almost certainly flow from the perception – let alone the reality – that America is once again abandoning the Iraqi people will translate into the rise of another repressive authoritarian regime there, this time probably one closely aligned with Iran. Such an outcome would not be good for freedom-loving people in Iraq and elsewhere, including here.
The defeatists’ second rationale is even more disingenuous. They complain bitterly that we do not have enough troops in Iraq to win. Yet, with few exceptions, they are unwilling either to increase the deployment there or otherwise to build up our military to contend with current and future needs.
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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