New York's great Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said it:
"This is a campaign. We are going to keep at it, and we are going to continue this discussion (of America's military involvement in Iraq) for the good of the country. And we believe the more it is debated and discussed, the more the difference between the parties is apparent to the American people, the less flexibility the president will have in maintaining his course."
So there you have it: As we enter the fifth year of war against jihadism, the Democrats will keep pounding on Iraq (a) to achieve liberty's defeat there and (b) to regain the White House. Their principal acolytes in this twofold enterprise will be those preening Hollywood twits and the press - both cohorts as lopsidedly hostile to our success in Iraq now as they were to our success in Vietnam back when.
In disarray, the Democrats cannot prevail with any of their endless measures to shackle our Iraqi enterprise. They lack in Congress the numerical clout and the ideological cohesiveness. Every legislative initiative carries with it the implication of undermining the troops. And any successful votes will face the presidential axe.
Notes Democratic Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin: "We don't have the votes to defund the war, and we shouldn't. . . . It's time these idiot liberals understood that." Republican Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon concurs: "Congress is an institution incapable of playing commander in chief, and the Democrats are proving that."
Unable to win in Congress, the Democrats are working to win the White House. The ultimate potential victims are the Iraqi people and - longer term, denying the rightness of the American effort to extend democratic freedom into the Arab world - the American people. Failure to plant freedom there directly threatens the survival of freedom here.
Wars tend not to go according to plan; few ever have. And contrary to the preachings of pessimists and defeatists, wars can be turned around - as Gen. David Petraeus may be doing now.
The shortcomings regarding the U.S. enterprise against jihad have been primarily these:
First, the failure - through relentless articulation - to build and maintain public support for the task at hand. This struggle for our lives may prove the struggle of our lives. It certainly is the most serious threat to the Free World since communism.
Second, the failure to boost military manpower to levels sufficient to meet our needs. Right now, the armed forces are undermanned, under-equipped, and under-trained. Readiness is marginal. Backup forces are thin. The burden of service falls on far too few.
The nation almost had Al Gore and John Kerry for presidents. Historian Paul Johnson puts it well: "I wish some of those who constantly criticize America's efforts and the judgment of President Bush would ask themselves this simple question: Would you really like to live in a world (of brute force) where the U.S. sits idly by and lets things happen?"
That's what Jihad Jane Fonda (nee Hanoi Jane) is implicitly encouraging from the ramparts. Ditto Generals Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Ditto the lopsidedly leftist establishment press. And ditto singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Bush administration, she says, has "made me more angry. I feel despair when I turn on the news or I read the newspaper. I feel despair that we're never going to be able to regain the respect of the countries of this world - that we're putting our children in danger of not having a future."
But Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali Muslim who became a member of the Dutch parliament only to flee to the U.S. because of jihadist threats on her life, has a different view. She understands the fanaticism inherent in Islam - that Islamist hostility to the West "isn't something that's caused by special offense, the right, Jews, (or) poverty. It's religion." She adds: "A free society should be prepared to recognize the patterns in front of it, and do something about them." But, she says, even now we may be "too weak to take up our role. The West is falling apart. The open society is coming undone."
In elections and polls, the Iraqis have made clear their preference for liberty. They may yet decide they do not want to live together - Kurd, Sunni and Shiite - but apart. If the U.S. - leader of what remains of the West - desires a future worth having, two things need to happen fast: The left will join with the administration and those of right reason in articulating the central importance of prevailing in Iraq and the war against jihad. And the administration will lead the way in infusing the armed forces with adequate manpower to win the war and keep it won.