President Bush is the man with the plan
By Carol Devine-Molin
On "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, Senator Joe Lieberman – who apparently is the only Democrat Senator who really grasps the profound stakes in Iraq and is supportive of President Bush – was spot-on as he brought context and overview to the Iraqi circumstances. First, he noted that all Americans, and of course that's irrespective of political persuasion, want our troops home as soon as it's feasibly possible. Second, we need to withdraw our troops in victory; otherwise, there will be catastrophic consequences for leaving Iraq precipitously, which I'll detail further. Moreover, victory requires securing the Iraqi population, particularly in the Baghdad region where about eighty percent of the sectarian violence is occurring.
Unfortunately, the constant drumbeat of Left-wing propaganda has taken its toll, and the American people are now responding largely out of emotionalism rather than what's in the best interests of our national security and the stability of the Middle East. The liberals have politicized the struggle in Iraq to the hilt - If the Left-leaning crowd really understood and cared about the US military, they would permit these fine warriors to do their job without the constant political pressures that only serve to undermine their mission and morale. And since when do liberals really care about our troops in the military who serve voluntarily? These are self-selected individuals who tend to be politically right-leaning more than not. This is particularly true of reservists, who have served in Iraq in unprecedented numbers. I see big-wig Democrats running around and claiming that the war in Iraq is "not winnable", which, of course, is extremely irresponsible. It sends the wrong signal to our enemies, and it's certainly not conducive to good troop morale.
That being said, I thought President Bush's recent speech on Iraq hit all the right notes. Anyone who read my last column knows that I had quite a few questions regarding a troop surge, and I have no doubt that my questions were similar, or at least consonant, with those being asked by other informed Americans. Essentially, I wanted to hear about a new strategy that's achievable and measurable, a commitment to free-up our troops so that they can apprehend all the bad players perpetrating mayhem, whether Sunni or Shia, and, a concerted effort to rein-in Iran and Syria, thereby halting their efforts to enflame sectarian violence in Iraq. The Bush speech covered all that ground and then some.
President Bush made it clear that his administration is fully cognizant why we failed to secure Baghdad, and how it will be rectified at this juncture: "Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have." Moreover, he explained: "So I have committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them — five brigades — will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."
Frankly, people should understand that the currently cited 21,500 troop increase is a relatively modest addition. Troop numbers will move from 132,000 to approximately 154,000. If that's what it takes to get the job done, that's somewhat of a bargain. It will still be another four to five months to get all the troops settled into the war theater. Noteworthy, Iraq will be required to meet certain benchmarks including spending ten billion of its own money on infrastructure and reforming de-Ba'athification laws in the spirit of Iraqi national reconciliation. As the President noted, our commitment to Iraq is clearly not open-ended, which should be an encouragement to the American public.
In response to Democrat politicians and other Leftist elites who are demanding that we accept defeat and immediately start drawing down the troop levels, I have this to say: For heaven's sake, we've come this far, we're already in Baghdad, let's deal with the issues and attempt to correct any mistakes. Every single war requires tweaking and making necessary adjustments in response to what's transpiring "on the ground" – That's the nature of warfare. America has the greatest military in the history of the world and we can't secure a single city? That's absurd, and doesn't meet the "logic test".
Also, average Americans have got to start questioning why this rabidly anti-Bush Democrat Party is so eager for us to end our commitment to Iraq. It's because "retreat and defeat" benefits Democrats politically: It plays to their anti-war base and can be used repeatedly as a harpoon to discredit President Bush and the GOP. The liberal Democrats don't give a rat's patoot about our national security, our troops in the Middle East or the Iraqi people. The political Left only cares about bolstering and consolidating its own power. The Left-leaning crowd releases classified information on a regular basis, undermines the war effort and our national security, damages our troops' morale, and criticizes the Commander-in-Chief non-stop. OK, so where's their illustrious plan? There is no Democrat plan for Iraq or the overall war-on-terror, or any attempt to offer up constructive solutions! Moreover, Congressional Democrats don't have the guts to de-fund the war effort because that would make them responsible for their actions. They want power, but no accountability. That's not leadership, that's cynical, political manipulation at its worst. Now the American people will be subjected to "symbolic de-funding" (I kid you not) through myriad Congressional hearings designed to embarrass President Bush and drag him through the mud.
Moreover, if we "redeploy" as the Democrats are insisting, leaving quickly without securing the populace of Baghdad and sufficiently training Iraqi forces, what consequences will we be facing? We can expect: a) loss of our national credibility on the world front, b) an Iraqi bloodbath with the various factions in and around Baghdad participating in full-fledged rumbles, c) a power vacuum that will lead Iran to overtake parts of Iraq, d) the emergence of an entrenched terror haven in Iraq that will have profound implications not only for the Middle East, but for western democracies – particularly the US – which certainly will be subjected to increased levels of terror attacks (expect terrorists from Jihad Central to follow us home), e) an emboldened "nuclear Iran" at the forefront of the region as the undisputed hegemonic power that will use oil as a tool of blackmail and pose a significant threat to other Middle East nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States, and f) an overall destabilization of the Middle East . And that's precisely why President Bush and Senators such as John McCain have maintained all along that failure in Iraq is not an option.
It's also extremely noteworthy that President Bush is determined to tackle Iran and Syria at this juncture. As he stated in last week's speech: "These two regimes [Iran and Syria] are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq" The President went on to say that he's directing the deployment of an "additional carrier strike group" to the region and expanding intelligence efforts to protect our allies as well. This represents something of a "shift in perception" in the way the US is now publicly targeting Iran and Syria for abetting violence in Iraq. Military operations underway in recent weeks have begun to net Iranian agents that have been up to no-good in Iraq.
Interestingly, Israel has also sent its own strong message to Iran, almost in tandem with the President's speech. Last week the London Times reported that Israel was planning to inflict considerable damage upon Iran's nuclear program, since Israeli intelligence sources estimate that Iran will possess the ability to produce nuclear weaponry within two years. Of course, Israel has every reason to be leery of Iran, which is continually threatening to wipe the tiny nation of Israel off the face of the map. In response to Iran's menacing and its refusal to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Israel plans airstrikes at three key sites that will effectively disable Iran's nuclear capability: a plant at Natanz, a uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, and a heavy water reactor at Arak. Given that the Israelis will be required to tackle up to 70 feet of concrete and rock, they intend to utilize conventional Laser-guided bombs to tunnel in, followed by bunker-busting tactical mini-nukes. The radioactive fallout would be limited. Not surprisingly, the Israelis are now denying the report. But, clearly, Iran is being sent a message that unless it changes it ways, Israel will take preemptive actions to ensure its safety.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.