The mid - term elections, the resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld, the upcoming Baker report, the president’s trip to Jordan have all intensified the debate over the Iraq war. Emboldened by the congressional election, pundits and politicians are calling for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
But what would that mean to us strategically, as well as morally?
In the November issue of the New Republic, writer David Rieff says that withdrawal must come "sooner rather than later." He writes that the "American public has grown fed up with the entire venture" and will not support a protracted stay in Iraq, much less an escalation. Well, maybe so: That’s certainly true for those who believe the polls should govern us.
But there is more to leadership than reading polls. Leadership is about seeing and articulating all that is at stake. Our leaders, especially the president, are facing right now an agonizing decision. And we, as Christians, ought to be praying for godly wisdom.
The options are pretty bleak. If we leave now with the insurrection gaining strength, Iraq will deteriorate into full - fledged chaos: the Shiites vs. the Sunnis vs. the Kurds, with unimaginable bloodletting.
Iran cannot help but step in on the side of their fellow Shiites in Iraq. In fact, this would further Tehran's ambition to become the region's dominant power, an ambition that has led Iran not only to support Iraq’s Shiites, but Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well.
But, though you do not hear this discussed very often, Israel, the only democracy and reliable U.S. ally in the region, would be in grave peril. Three months ago, Hezbollah fought Israeli troops to a standstill. A U.S. withdrawal would open the floodgates for Iran to further arm and supply Hezbollah on Israel's borders.
If we follow Rieff's counsel, the entire Muslim world will see it as a huge victory in the clash of civilizations, the kind of thing bin Laden has been predicting all along, and the terrorists would be emboldened — Israel, perhaps, finished.
But look at the facts: Every time we have put more troops into theater we have reduced casualties and the insurrection has been subdued, and every time we've withdrawn troops the casualties go up — the insurrection intensifies.
The alternative — confirming bin Laden's belief that the United States is a paper tiger — is unacceptable in a world as dangerous as ours, for reasons I'll explain more fully on "BreakPoint" tomorrow.