Given the steady flow of anti-war and anti-surge rhetoric spewing from the mouths of the Congressional majority and Presidential candidates seeking the Party’s nomination, I have to wonder if key Democratic players suffer from a genuine lack of understanding regarding the threats we face if we fail in Iraq, or if they are just choosing to ignore those threats and the likely consequences of precipitous withdrawal.
Critics of recent Congressional action on the Iraq war like to argue that Democrats are traditionally weak on national security, and that they simply don’t have a firm understanding of what will happen if we pull our troops out prematurely and surrender Iraq to the jihadists and the Iranians. This position is understandable.
It’s easy to surmise that those on the left misunderstand the threat when you read comments like the ones made by LA Times columnist and fervent Bush / Republican basher Rosa Brooks, who in a column called “9/11 was bad, but…” published on April 27, wrote: “The 9/11 attacks were appalling and tragic, but they did not threaten the survival of the nation.” Ms. Brooks went on to write, “Of course, 3,000 dead is 3,000 too many. But keep it in perspective.” Keep it in perspective? Her words and her comparison of the death toll from 9/11 with our casualty figures from the two world wars, Korea and Vietnam reveal a leftist mentality that is focused on the damage caused by one supposedly isolated act of violence and not on the threat posed by a radical ideology determined to effect our eventual subjugation under the banner of Islam.
While this belief of natural weakness and lack of comprehension may be true for the more radical members of the Party, who are blinded by their hatred for the President, wars in general, and the Iraq war in particular, I don’t believe it to be the case for the Democrats’ core leaders in the Congress or on the Presidential campaign trail. Instead, I believe it more likely that the heavy hitters of the Democratic Party do in fact recognize the threats we face and are purposely ignoring the consequences of defeat for political gain in 2008.
There is some basis for this theory. Earlier this year, the Democratic Leadership Council, chaired by former Representative Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee, published its Plan B on Iraq, citing the failure of President Bush’s strategy as a call for changing direction in the conduct of the war. Part of the plan reads as follows:
“…the ‘out now’ option would likely compromise U.S. security interests, trigger a full-scale civil war, invite foreign intervention, provide an unprecedented propaganda victory for Sunni Jihadists and Shi’a theocrats whose savage violence has been aimed at creating this outcome, and abandon those millions of Iraqis whose suffering under Saddam Hussein will be compounded by more chaos, war and tyranny.”
The plan goes on to say: “A precipitous withdrawal would also drive the Iraqi government further into the arms of the Iranians…making Shi’a-Sunni reconciliation even harder and increasing Iran’s regional influence. And it could definitely create a dangerous recruitment point and training base for the international Jihadists who remain the key global threat to our, and the world’s security interests. A rapid and complete withdrawal from Iraq isn’t really a Plan B: it’s a ‘Plan Zero’ for liquidating the whole Iraq engagement as hopeless.”
So where’s the disconnect? How can the Democratic Leadership Council recognize the dangers associated with premature withdrawal while the Party’s Congressional leaders and Presidential candidates vociferously demand that very course of action? How does the Council reconcile its position with Senator Reid’s public statements concerning a war that is already lost and the need for bringing our troops home in accordance with the mandate allegedly granted by the November 2006 elections?
The truth, I believe, is that most Democrats understand exactly what will happen if we fail in Iraq. They understand that the unchecked genocide of Iraqi Sunnis by the Shi’a majority could spark a regional sectarian war. They understand that Iran’s position in the region would be enhanced and that a traditional buffer against Shi’ite influence in the Middle East would be eliminated. They understand that the violence and chaos in Iraq would likely escalate, endangering our allies in the region and our national security interests worldwide while creating a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. And they understand that terrorists around the world would be emboldened by their victory over the world’s only remaining superpower, just as they were when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan.
Given this understanding of the consequences of premature withdrawal, why are leading Democrats denouncing the President’s “surge” strategy and demanding a reduction in forces or a complete pullout instead? There can be only one answer.
Democrats know that they must maintain the status quo in Iraq until after the 2008 elections. To concede, even a little bit, that the surge might be working, that there may be signs of progress, would be to admit that the President might have been correct in implementing his new security strategy for Baghdad and al-Anbar Province. That is why it was necessary to discount General Petraeus’ reports of initial progress and encouraging signs even before he appeared in the House and Senate. It is also why Speaker Pelosi felt it was more important to work on securing votes for the withdrawal resolution than it was to be at Petraeus’ briefing.
The success of the surge would spell political disaster for Democrats as Americans realized that we could in fact win in Iraq, and that there was an honorable end in sight for a conflict that has torn at the very soul of this nation. For Democrats, the surge must fail in order for Iraq to be used as political ammunition in the 2008 elections.
Democrats also know that they cannot, under any circumstances, cut off funds for the troops, for they alone would bear full responsibility for abandoning our men and women in harm’s way and for the increased violence and chaos that would surely follow in Iraq after U.S. troops were redeployed.
So what we get from the Democratic-led Congress and from the Democratic Presidential field is resolution after resolution criticizing the President while avoiding responsibility for anything that happens in Iraq. The hope, I believe, is to maintain the current pattern through the 2008 elections, allowing Democrats to claim that the President was the problem and that they were powerless to stop him because Republicans in the Congress would not support overriding a Presidential veto.
The end result is the undermining of the Commander-in-Chief, the troops in the field, and their mission in Iraq purely for political gain. The strategy is an astute one, as far as Washington maneuvering goes, but it is also one of surrender and defeat in Iraq in order to secure victory at the ballot box in 2008. For Democrats, political advantage has taken priority over national security. That is why the surge must fail, and that is why Democrats have fittingly been accused of being “The Party of Defeat.”