Imagine a Super Bowl football team quitting the game in
the third quarter simply because they were behind. The premise is so absurd it
is inconceivable. So too would be our quitting a war to protect our way of life
simply because battlefield conditions are not going perfectly.
Football teams continually adjust their tactics and
strategy during a game based on playing conditions on the field. And so does a
nation at war. Seldom does any country enter a war with a perfect strategy in
which to win it. Almost always, shortcomings are found that require a new
approach. A victorious nation modifies what needs to be modified, and they go
Thatís what weíve done in almost every war since the
American Revolution. It did not happen in the first Iraq war in 1991 because it
was over so quickly, but itís what we must do now in the second Iraq war. No
one ever said things would go perfectly this time. Unlike football, no one knows
for sure when a war will end. But we do know that if we don't play to win, we
are sure we lose.
We cannot afford for Iraq to become a base of operations
for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups regardless of the drivel to the contrary
seen in the New York Times or on CNN. And that is what we face by withdrawing
troops and expecting the Iraqi army to take over by the end of the year.
Strategically, the prospect of democratizing the Middle
East remains the only plausible long-term alternative to radical Islam. No
matter how complex, altering the political traditions in that region remains a
necessity. No other option can bring us long-term success. Iraq is where the
For that to happen, the Iraqi people need to be
protected from insurgents and sectarian death squads, or a political solution
cannot be achieved. If the U.S. and Iraqi army do not provide them security, the
Iraqi people will search for security wherever they can find it.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia has become a
menace to stability because of the Sunni insurgent attacks on innocent Shiites.
Shia death-squads have filled a void left by a government too ineffectual to
provide security to its people from the insurgents.
To stabilize the country, deal with the militias, and
deal a decisive blow against the insurgency, rather than reducing American
forces in Iraq, we probably need more troops.
Moreover, our troops need more open rules of engagement
to do their job effectively. This is war, and they are soldiers, not police
officers. The U.S. and Iraqi governments must expect civilian casualties and
collateral damage. Itís unavoidable. The irony in this matter is that most
Iraqi people would welcome the increased security.
We also need to prevent Iran and Syria from meddling in
Iraq. Once we deploy troops on the Iran-Iraq border, Iraqi Shiites will more
aggressively search out Iranian agents in the slum neighborhoods of Baghdad.
When we show resolve that we are not going to run away, Iraq's leaders will be
more confident about their position, and hence govern better as well.
Iraqi forces must own this war, and in the end, win it.
Insurgents number at most 10,000. They should be no match over time for a growing
army numbering more than 129,000 trained Iraqi soldiers. When the Iraqi people
see their army engaging and winning against the terrorists, their perception
will change and the war will turn in our favor.
If Iraqis do not establish a viable government that
effectively deals with security, the situation will worsen no matter what we do.
In the end, a new coalition will need to be formed by moderate Shiites, Kurds,
Such a government nearly came about following the last
Iraqi election. With al-Sadr gone, moderation may be possible again. A new
government could be formed that may actually preside over the national interest.
At home, the negativism of the Democrats and their media
allies regarding this war has been deplorable, if not treasonous. We are in this
mess largely because their self-serving statements have encouraged our enemies.
With their taking control of Congress, we cannot afford to ignore these
statements and their corrosive effects any longer. They must be called out on
any statement that undercuts our national security.
Recently, Sen. Joe Lieberman rightly noted, "In
Iraq today we have a responsibility to do what is strategically and morally
right for our nation over the long term -- not what appears easier in the short
term." In other words, we need to continue to advance freedom and
moderation in the Middle East, and not run away.
Americans will support a winning strategy. But advisers
to the president have also been failing him by taking half steps in this war. We
have never had enough troops on the ground. We should applaud, however, his
resolve to withstand the demands of a growing number of hand-wringers who are
only looking for an easy way out. Only President Bush can make the changes
necessary to turn this struggle around. It is his job to lay out the plan.
The only substitute for the defeatism of the Left is a
renewed determination to win by the rest of us. That, admittedly, is a tall
order. But we can only win this war by a public that demands victory from the
naysayers. And that, my friends, is our job. Making our voices heard is critical
for all who are concerned about winning this necessary war.