Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Victory in Iraq Caucus

The formation of the Out of Iraq Caucus in the US House of Representatives was certainly not an encouraging sign for the soldiers in the War on Terror. War, as Clausewitz pointed out, is not ultimately about killing the enemy: it is about breaking his will to resist. Whatever the intentions of the leaders of the Caucus, it scarcely looked like a contribution to breaking the enemy's will. Especially when 59 congressman signed a bill calling for US withdrawal to begin in October 2006. The Caucus looked instead like an excuse to cut and run--and hence an encitement to more terrorism.

Well: hang on. The Caucus just met with Gen. Wesley Clark:

Clark met privately with the members of the Out of Iraq Caucus to give them his perspective on the ongoing conflict and offer advice on how Democrats should frame their arguments for bringing troops home. His call: Avoid specific timelines for withdrawal and focus instead on calling for and developing strategies for success that rely not on the military, but on diplomacy.

One might have expected the Caucus to inform Clark that he had just exposed himself as a neoconservative. On the contrary:

(Rep. Maxine) Waters (D-Calif.) said that while some in the caucus want an immediate withdrawal, the Out of Iraq effort is inclined to follow the lead of Clark and present a plan relying heavily on diplomatic means for concluding the engagement.

Now comes shock number two. The above is posted on the Daily Kos website. Included is a poll of DKos members asking if they agree with Gen Clark's advice.

51% Yes
24% No
18% (Sort of agree!)
(As of 10.30pm Thursday 22 September 2005)

Unbelievable. So even the most hardline members of the Congressional left aren't willing to stick to their call for an October 2006 withdrawal. And rather than responding with a unified cry of outrage and betrayal, the internet leftists at DKos mostly agree. So they talk now of a vague call for diplomacy as a path to pullout.

The significance of this should be clear. The terrorists in Iraq cannot win on the ground. They cannot defeat American troops in the field, and they cannot prevail against the 60% Shiite/20% Kurdish majority that wants democracy and freedom. The terrorists have always known this, and they know this now. Their only hope has been to create a Walter Cronkite/Tet 1968 moment: an upsurge of terror that convinces the networks and the American people to quit, cut and run.

What tonight's news tells us is that this is not going to happen. Leave aside the point that President Bush is not an LBJ-style quitter, and that the GOP controls the Congress. Even the most extreme members of the American Left are not ready to turn Baghdad 2006 into Saigon 1975. The Pentagon will be able to finish the training of the new Iraqi Army, and will be able to leave when its job is finished--and not in answer to pressure from a panicked American public.

Yesterday Jalal Talabani, the first democratically elected president of Iraq, appealed to the American public to support the troops in Iraq until the mission was finished. Talabani's appeal is remarkable, and no short excerpts do it justice. It is a ringing affirmation of democracy, and a salute to the American soldiers that have helped create it. The appeal is a must-read.

And the good news is that there is every indication that he will get his wish.

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