Several months ago I asked what the Iraq war effort might look like today if those on the left and in the media had conducted themselves differently. I said that when the Iraqi public, including the terrorists there, are given the impression that U.S. politicians have lost the will to fight, there must be an impact on their behavior. Common sense told me that it could not help but influence their morale and belief in the cause and their likelihood of success, as well as, in the case of the terrorists, their ability to recruit.
Specifically I asked if it were clear to the Iraqi people that politicians in D.C. were committed to finishing the mission in Iraq, would the attitude of the people there be different? I wondered if politicians and anti-war activists had not accused our own troops of engaging in torture, and worse, would world opinion, and specifically the opinion of the Iraqi people, be different? I expressed my hope that one day that debate, over what that impact might be, would take place.
It appears to me, after reading some of the testimony given by General Petraeus this week, that such a debate is now underway.
During Gen. Petraeus’ confirmation hearing testimony, Joe Lieberman asked the general if Senate resolutions condemning the President’s proposed new policy in Iraq “would give the enemy some comfort.” Patraeus said it would, answering, “That’s correct, sir.”
Hugh Hewitt addressed what it means to “encourage the enemy” saying it “means to increase their will to fight on, and their courage to do so even in the face of the arrival of reinforcements. It also means to increase –substantially—the likelihood of redoubled and retripled efforts on their part to kill American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
Hewitt went on to say “Democrats are willing to encourage the enemy if it means hurting George W. Bush. They are willing to disregard the advice of the general they have just sent to do a mission if it serves their political purposes.” That is a pretty bold accusation to make and not one I am eager to embrace, but everything I have seen over the past three years tells me that Hewitt is right and that the behavior did not begin with the current resolution.
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the President’s calls for victory in Iraq were met from the Democrat side of the aisle with intentional silence. Most Democrats would not applaud, much less stand, for victory in Iraq. Over the past months and years, those on the left have gone to great effort to paint the mission in Iraq as “failed,” “doomed” and a “disaster.” They have failed to acknowledge the accomplishments of the U.S. military in Iraq, but have been quick to talk about those in our armed forces as child victims of a failed policy or (worse) as bloodthirsty thugs engaging in torture and terror.
It is certainly not a pleasant thing to accuse fellow Americans, particularly ones entrusted by the citizenry with the nation’s well being, of playing politics with American lives or of providing moral support to her enemies, but I think it is time to ask some hard questions.
Why have so many critics of the war spent more time talking about alleged abuses at Gitmo than they have talking about the new freedoms being enjoyed by those in Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of actions taken by the U.S. military?
Why is it that many war critics seem to believe the U.S. is capable of addressing the conflict and genocide in Darfur, but that they are not capable of achieving victory in Iraq?”
Why is it that when generals, or more frequently former generals, express a lack of confidence in the President, the Secretary of Defense, or our policy and mission in Iraq, their word is not only accepted without question, but their opinions are treated as absolute fact, but when other generals say that it is still possible to win in Iraq, and that condemnations of the President and his policies encourage the enemy, they are ignored?
Why, when given a choice between defeat through surrender or the possibility to pursue victory, there are so many so eager to choose the former?
It is difficult to answer those questions without considering what victory in Iraq would mean.
Victory in Iraq would not only be a positive development for those in the Middle East with effects being felt around the world, and a huge success for those in the U.S. military, but success in Iraq would be seen as the ultimate success for the Bush presidency. For too many politicians considering the options in Iraq, and the choice between defeat through surrender or pursuit of victory, that is a huge problem.