Rich Tucker

Every sport has an off-season. In golf, it’s called the “Silly Season,” the few months between official tournaments when players go out and earn scads of money in skins games and other made-for-TV competitions.

For politicians, too, this is the off-season. They’re attempting to raise money and get ready for the 2006 congressional elections. But liberals are making it a “silly season,” because they seem to think their best strategy is to declare the United States will lose in Iraq.

Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, told a San Antonio radio station on Dec. 5, “[The] idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.” Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has signed on to Rep. John Murtha’s plan to pull all American forces out of Iraq within six months. She claims more than half of House Democrats agree with her and Murtha.

“I am convinced we can’t win militarily,” Murtha says. “My plan says redeploy to the periphery, to Kuwait, to Okinawa, and if there’s a terrorist activity that affects our allies or affects the United States’ national security, we can then go back in,” Murtha announced on Dec. 7, adding, “the military has said we can’t win militarily.”

That might come as a surprise to Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We are winning, and we will stay at it because our children and grandchildren deserve to live in the kinds of freedom you and I have enjoyed all our lives,” he recently told students at the National Defense University.

Murtha went on to say the American presence in Iraq is a big part of the problem. He says, “there will be less terrorism, there will be less danger to the United States and it’ll be less insurgency once we’re out,” he said.

Again, Gen. Pace disagrees. “I say to those now who say we should just stop fighting in Iraq, just stop fighting in Afghanistan, just stop fighting the terrorists and this would just go away -- you need to get out and read what our enemies are saying,” he said on Nov. 30. “They’re not saying ‘if you stay home we won’t come after you’.”

Murtha’s wrong about the war, as Pace demonstrates, but you’ve got to give him credit for one thing -- at least he’s proposed something. Most liberals are happy to criticize our current policy, but they have nothing constructive to suggest.

For proof, just look to the left-leaning think tanks. Such institutions serve as a sort of government-in-opposition. They give the leading minds on the left a place to hang out while they wait for a Democrat to be elected president, and they’re supposed to serve as a hotbed of ideas.

But as The Washington Post reported on Dec. 5, there are precious few ideas on the left.

Former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s take was typical. “I’m not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy,” he said, helpfully.

Former presidential candidate Wesley Clark told the paper, “The U.S. can’t succeed by focusing on Iraq alone.” Citing his own experience, Clark added, “As NATO commander, I brought a coalition together to defeat [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic. We did that through diplomacy. That’s what forced him [to back down], not the bombing.”

Of course, we’ve already got a coalition in place. And if Clark wants to attempt to negotiate with Ayman al-Zawahri, he should go right ahead. Maybe they can exchange headgear, as he once did with Serbian war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic.

 Former defense secretary William Perry is also vague. “If we pull out, it will leave an unsettled situation that is bad for the neighborhood and bad for us. Therefore I’d be willing to stay longer if I believed what we’re doing would lead to progress in six to 12 months,” he said. “But I have not seen that evidence, so I’m skeptical that it will.” Got that?

 Zbigniew Brzezinski at least has the courage of his convictions. “We have to face the fact that the war is not going well and is costing us too much, not only in blood and money but also in the U.S. position in the world, discrediting our legitimacy, credibility and morality even,” the former Carter aide said.

Good luck to Brzezinski, Dean et al. Betting against the United States military is a good way to go broke.

On Dec. 15, Iraqis will vote again, this time to select a full-term government. No doubt that government will eventually ask us to leave Iraq, and we will. At that time, however much Howard Dean screams, our troops will come home as winners.


Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.