"We assess that…perceived jihadist success [in Iraq] would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.
Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."
National Intelligence Estimate
Trends in Global Terrorism:
Implications for the United States
In the next few months, perhaps in the next few weeks, we, as a nation, must make a decision. A decision that will affect not only our lives but those of our children and grandchildren.
The American people understand that this is a dangerous world. They know we must be prepared to defend ourselves at all times. They will support a war to protect our national security and defend our way of life. They will not – and should not – support an indecisive or failing entanglement in which our bravest and most patriotic young men and women are placed in jeopardy, injured, or killed with no clear goal or positive outcome realistically in sight.
Following Vietnam, the American people believe in the Powell Doctrine: If you have to go to war, go with overwhelming, decisive, crushing force, win and win quickly and get out.
Following 9/11, we all understand that radical Islamic terrorists want to kill us. They have tried before and they will try again. No thoughtful American suggests we can shrink from the war on terror. Yet, we are frustrated to the point of hopelessness with the lack of progress in Iraq. Senseless killing. No end in sight. And concern that even “winning” – and many aren’t sure what winning in Iraq means – would be of significant value. As a result, we are tempted to believe the fight doesn’t matter. Some would like to believe we can abandon Iraq without damage or consequence and without emboldening our enemies or further endangering the world.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. With no clear path forward, we stand poised hoping against hope that the Baker-Hamilton Commission will find a silver bullet, a magic way out of Iraq easier and quicker than stabilizing the country enough that the democratically elected government survives.
The alternative, however, is clear. If we don’t do what is necessary to secure Iraq and instead, we simply figure out how to manage our withdrawal and spin our defeat, we will “inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.” And elsewhere includes here at home.
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