Washington, D.C. -- This week in Islamabad, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ordered commandos to assault the Red Mosque after a six-day siege against well-armed Taliban-supporting militants. Less than 24 hours later, Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's apparent successor to the command of al Qaeda, issued his third "Jihadist Exhortation" of the month -- a new record.
Meanwhile, here in Washington, more Republicans joined the "get out of Iraq" chorus as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described his "gut feeling" that a major terrorist event against us is in the offing. The next day President Bush christened the new White House briefing room, explaining that public debate is not about whether to bring the troops home, it is between "those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost and those who believe the fight can be won, and (know) the costs of defeat would be far higher."
Chertoff's queasiness -- my word, not his -- is well founded. The months ahead are very likely to be, as he put it, a period of "increased risk." It's not just because of "seasonal patterns of terrorist attacks" or "recent al Qaeda statements." Rather, the greater threat of terrorist activity is very likely tied to a perception -- widely supported by the U.S. press and an increasing number of politicians -- that the West cannot stabilize Iraq or Afghanistan and will therefore "withdraw" from the unprovoked war radical Islam is waging against us.
Ever since liberal Democrats took control of the U.S. Congress in January, there has been much in the Western media to encourage those who are dying to kill us. It has taken nearly five months for us to "surge" an additional 25,000 troops to the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, and now weak-kneed Republicans, more terrified of losing their seats than they are of vicious Islamic terrorists, are opting to abandon the battlefield in Iraq. Of the Senate seats up for reelection in 2008, 21 are held by Republicans, 12 by Democrats. GOP advocates for devising a "get out" strategy -- Sens. Lamar Alexander, Chuck Hagel, Gordon Smith, John Warner, Susan Collins and Pete Domenici -- are all up for reelection. How these solons will explain the catastrophe that will follow a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will be a challenge for their press spokesmen.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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