Part I of this post can be found here.
The majority of Democrats in the nation's capitol speak of Iraq in terms of a loss. One does not speak of withdrawing forces from a conflict when victory is in grasp unless there is a fundamental lack of commitment to achieving the objective: a democratic, region-changing Iraq. Dawn's Early Light will take each of the charges listed in Part I that are argued by the Democrats along with a Beatroot's suggestion (in the comment section) that "we are less safe at home".
Charge 1: The War is Unjust
It is true that the claims of weapons of mass destruction did not bear out. However, the record of atrocities of the Baathist regime under Saddam Hussein, including gassing its own people, invading both Iran and Kuwait, paying Palestinian suicide bombers' families for murdering Israelis, and flouting international law and resolutions of the United Nations over weapons inspections carry more weight than was mustered during the surgical European-US war in Serbia.
The Senate, then led by Democrats in October 2002, voted 77-23 (77%) in favor of the use of force. The Congress voted 296-133 (69%). Over two-thirds of Congress voted for the authorization of force. Considering that Democrats made up 50% of the Congress at the time, the "Unjust War" theory seems hollow at best. The passage of time, weakening of political will, and, frankly, political opportunism is tied up in the majority of Democratic statements about Iraq.
Charge 2: The War is Unwinnable
This has become the more common and long-lasting charge against the Bush administration. However, the evidence does not support it, and one doesn't even have to take the American view to come to this conclusion.
The letter found by the United States from senior Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and leader of the terrorist/insurgency Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is revealing. Retrieved in July 2005, the Director of National Intelligence sums up its points as follows:
- The centrality of the war in Iraq for the global jihad.
- From al Qa'ida's point of view, the war does not end with an American departure.
- An acknowledgment of the appeal of democracy to the Iraqis.
- The strategic vision of inevitable conflict, with a tacit recognition of current political dynamics in Iraq; with a call by al-Zawahiri for political action equal to military action.
- The need to maintain popular support at least until jihadist rule has been established.
- Admission that more than half the struggle is taking place "in the battlefield of the media."
It clearly is not a letter written from the perspective of being on the eve of victory. Al-Qaeda is losing in Iraq from their own perspective. The last point is very telling with respect to the Democrat claims of losing the war. It is difficult to argue that the Democratic position is not one that aids and emboldens the enemy to win "in the battlefield of the media" as lawmakers make statements in politically motivated press conferences.
The facts on the ground do not support a winning insurgency. Bill Roggio, who has been following in detail the various US campaigns in Iraq and who is now reporting live from Iraq, tells a different story that what is parroted on the Sunday talk shows. US operations such as Steel Curtain and the Anbar Campaign paint a wholly different story. In "A Shift in Operations: The Wild West of Anbar isn't so wild anymore; the insurgency shifts back to the core," Mr. Roggio addresses where the military operations are ultimately heading:
"If you have a discussion with military officers in Western Anbar Province about the current and future status of military operations in the region, invariably the conversation will lead you to the reconstruction efforts of the Coalition. The phrases 'switching from kinetic to non-kinetic operations' or 'moving from kinetic operations to reconstruction' are often voiced."
This type of dedication to seeing the mission through to the end is what contributes to the major successes in Iraq. The voter turnout in the 2005 January election in Iraq is estimated at 58%, and this amidst an insurgency that did its best to kill innocent Iraqis with massive bombings to dissuade and cower the population. This signal, along with continued Coalition efforts to defeat the insurgency, led to an October 2005 vote on the Iraq Constitution that registered a 61% voter turnout. As voting begins for a new permanent Iraqi Parliament this week, Iraqis will again demonstrate their determination to build upon their electoral successes.
For a nation and region with no history of fair voting, these rates are impressive, and would be impressive even for an industrialized country. They clearly indicate to the world, even if not to the Democrats in Congress, that there is a strong desire by the Iraqis to organize a democratically elected government based on the rule of law. Over 2,000 US soldiers have paid the ultimate price to ensure these successes.
From a micro level to a macro level, order and progress is being won in Iraq. A democracy is being born.
Charge 3: Victory is not Worth the Cost
The death of 2,986 innocents on September 11, 2001 at the hands of Al-Qaeda was the awakening blow in the Global War on Terror. The left will argue that Iraq has nothing to do with Al-Qaeda or terrorism, but clearly the battle fought today against the insurgency is the battlefield between the US and terrorists (Al-Qaeda and others). A loss in Iraq would embolden all those who seek the destruction of the US and Western values, much as the US withdrawal from Somalia in 1993 after the tactical win in the Battle of Mogadishu encouraged Osama bin Laden.
The US is the world's global power and historically has been a strong champion of democratic principles around the globe. Abandoning Iraq would have consequences to US power and prestige, not to mention integrity, for generations to come. While the loss of American lives in Iraq are individual and personal tragedies, their lives are not given in vain. United States security depends increasingly on building a world order of democratic nations and removing the threat from rogue, repressive regimes.
Charge 4: The Bush Administration is Untrustworthy and Incapable of Victory
There will always be the zealots on the far right and far left of the political spectrum. For those who believe that the White House is run by Vice President Dick Cheney or from the Pentagon by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or by the hated "neo-cons," there is little room for debate. However, civility between lawmakers from both sides of the aisle is a must. Politics should end at the water's edge in America. The evidence supports that the war is winnable and that a democracy is being built in a region with no history of it that does have a history of breeding a hatred of the West. This charge appears incredible when judged against the US success of thwarting attacks at home. After the events of September 11, 2001, it was difficult to imagine the US would not have another major attack on its soil for over 4 years and counting as the battlefields shift around the world.
The current statements by the majority of Democrats betray the ideals of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Bush Administration is focused on timetables for success in building a democracy while promising that US forces will remain until the job is accomplished. This is political will and will be the defining memory of the Bush presidency.
Maybe the Democrats believe their crticism is a winning campaign strategy, but it surely is not a winning strategy for securing freedom for Iraqis and America's allies and ultimately our own republic.
For reference, the White House case for War was laid out on the White House website October 2, 2002.