As Democratic presidential hopefuls escalate their criticism of President Bush's policy on Iraq, we should recognize the constant theme amid their calamitous clamor: obstructionism in the War on Terror.
No sooner had they joined with the president in resolving to go after terrorist targets and the corrupt Taliban government in Afghanistan did they begin their handwringing at the prospect that we were about to become bogged down in a quagmire. "We haven't put enough troops on the ground." "We haven't properly trained the Afghan rebels." "We haven't found Osama."
Meanwhile, President Bush calmly and deliberately stayed the course, exercising presidential leadership and patient maturity.
As President Bush attempted to force Saddam Hussein to comply with the Gulf War resolutions and cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, liberals found more to criticize in President Bush than in Saddam Hussein. They resisted Bush's plan to attack Iraq until it was time for a vote, then reluctantly relented.
But as Bush prepared for war, they did their best to dissuade him from acting, saying that we needed the approval of the United Nations and certain appeasement-oriented countries to initiate the attack. To them, the inexcusable failure of the U.N. and other nations to bring Saddam to justice was reason to condemn President Bush, not the U.N. and those other nations.
On the verge of our attack against Iraq, Democrats castigated Bush again for failing to convince the inconvincible nations to join the coalition. The practical effect of their position would have been to place our foreign policy decisions solely in the hands of an anti-American United Nations and a handful of snooty, feckless European nations as in touch with reality as John Hinckley Jr.
When the war began, they started second-guessing and armchair quarterbacking our military strategy and trying to play up a conflict between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other administration officials. Out came their prophecies of doom, from mocking our "shock and awe" campaign, to saying insufficient troops were on the ground, to denouncing the air assault as too short lived and the advance to Baghdad as too quick.
They were consistently and demonstrably wrong. Yet now, they expect all of us to listen to their expertise? I don't think so.
Seriously, folks, we need to share a sober moment here. Have we forgotten what this war is all about? We are in a war for the very survival of our free society, living reasonably free of the fear of instant calamity at any time in any location.
We won the war against Saddam's regime and Iraq's military, and there is nothing wrong with Bush having announced that fact -- even if he is being pressured into backing away from that statement.
What is going on now is a concerted effort by terrorists lingering from Saddam's fallen regime and from other nations, trying to reverse the gains we've made. The Democrats talk quagmire, but they never complain about Bill Clinton's failed promise to remove troops from Bosnia.
The enemy fights dirty, using unorthodox methods and having unorthodox goals. Their purpose is not to defeat us militarily, but to chip away at our resolve, just like the Communists did during the Cold War.
Regardless of their ceaseless complaints about how we got there, don't liberals believe it's a good thing that we liberated Iraq? Don't their self-professed humanitarian and democratic instincts lead them to want to help stabilize the burgeoning democratic government in Iraq? If not, why not? If so, why won't they quit obstructing and join the effort to work through the difficult, post-war situation?
The task of building a democracy out of nothing would be formidable enough without terrorists working their sabotage at every turn. But if we care about seeing this through, if we are committed to improving the lives of the Iraqi people and helping them to enjoy political freedom -- rather than just paying lip service to abstract platitudes about liberty and democracy -- it's time we worked together toward that end.
It is nearly impossible to prevent all terrorist attacks -- ask the world's foremost experts, the Israelis. Failure to prevent all terrorist attacks in a post-war, unstable Iraq is not tantamount to losing the war. But undermining our resolve to stay the course is.
The more the Democratic hopefuls say we're losing the war, thereby weakening the American people's commitment and the morale of our troops, the more likely we are to allow our victory to be undone. But it's not just about Iraq. If we retreat there, we might as well surrender in the War on Terror.
Thank God George Bush is listening to his conscience rather than the daily polls.