William Rusher

It isn't fair to insist that the Iraqis are fatally incompetent, or corrupt or whathaveyou. They have just emerged from a bloody 30-year dictatorship. Understandably, they trust their religious and tribal ties more than the vision of a unified democratic state. But even The New York Times recently reported that the parties are close to agreement on an equitable division of the oil revenues that are Iraq's only resource. Once that crucial issue is resolved, much else may follow in its wake.

It is often protested that, even if more troops are needed, America simply doesn't have any more to send. It beggars belief that a nation of 300 million could not find 20,000, or even 50,000, more soldiers if necessary. It is probably true that in the short run rotations will have to be extended, and some units will have to be sent back to Iraq for a third time. But in National Review's luminous formulation, "if there is any cause that calls for straining the military, it is an attempt to keep from losing a war."

The United States is getting a dangerous reputation for losing its wars. The last time we won one was more than half a century ago. Since then, we have settled for a stalemate in Korea, abandoned an ally and fled the field in Vietnam, and pulled our forces out of Somalia. Osama bin Laden has cited both of the latter as proof of our cowardice. What will he (and the world) conclude if we turn tail in Iraq?

As Winston Churchill warned after Munich, "This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."

William Rusher

William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .

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