Jack Kemp

I really envy Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., the incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He told Tim Russert on Sunday's "Meet the Press" that the first thing he'll do is hold hearings on the right course of action in Iraq and listen to both sides of the issue from political, military and diplomatic experts.

Biden then said he'd offer a resolution to begin an orderly withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops to end our involvement. Biden has the luxury of holding hearings while already having made up his mind to cut and walk away. Politically speaking, he's in an ideal position.

For the record, there's much to be said for Biden's (and others') contradictions and confusion over the war. In addition to holding hearings and listening to those for and against, most importantly the chairman must listen to those who consider the consequences of a withdrawal not just from Iraq but, ultimately, from the whole of the Arabian and Persian Gulf region.

Given that the president has replaced Donald Rumsfeld with Bob Gates, replaced Gen. George Casey with General David H. Petraeus and replaced Gen. John Abizaid with Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, it's time (late as it is) to support a significant troop surge to pacify, stabilize and secure Baghdad and Anbar province. The consequences of walking away are too disastrous to our interests in the region.

Petraeus achieved significant success in pacifying Mosul, Iraq, in 2003 and is considered one of the most progressive thinkers in our military. President Bush understands the need to bring security and stability to Baghdad in order to give a new strategy the opportunity to work in achieving a much-needed success in this strategic part of the world.

To be fair to the critics on both sides of the original rush to war, I, too, had questions and doubts. But as one who shares the Lincolnian vision that democracy is the eventual destiny of all mankind, I've admired the president's desire to bring freedom and democratic nation-building to the Middle East, as we helped to do in Western Europe and Japan post World War II.

Thanks to President Harry S. Truman and Gen. George Marshall, as well as Sen. Arthur Vandenburg, R-Mich., a bipartisan achievement was made against the arguments (and votes) of Sen. Robert Taft, who represented the isolationist wing of the GOP. The Marshall Plan liberated both Western Europe and Asia from fanatical militarism and utter poverty, despite the prevailing opinion of the day saying democracy would never "take" in Germany and Japan.

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp is Founder and Chairman of Kemp Partners and a contributing columnist to Townhall.com.
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