There Is No Mandate To Bring All American Troops Home From Iraq
Saul Halpert, the former excellent KNBC reporter, now retired, writes in the L.A. Times letters column this morning, "The president is standing by his refusal to accept anything less than victory, although he has never defined what will constitute winning in that war, which many experts agree has already been lost. Any future moves can only minimize further damage to Iraqis, U.S. standing in the world and U.S. casualties.
"This portends contentious weeks and months ahead in Washington unless Democrats (and many Republicans) carry out the mandate of American voters to bring this sad war to as speedy a conclusion as possible."
Halpert, however, has misread both the election returns, and polls taken at the time of the election that showed only 27% of the voters wanted a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq.
Many of the 232 Democrats elected to the House are moderates who oppose any cut-and-run policy, although many would like to bring some American troops home in phases. If there was a clear majority of the American people who wanted to bug out of the war, then it seems to me Ned Lamont would have been elected over Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, where, instead, a coalition of Republicans, independents and Democrats finally gave Lieberman a solid majority.
The war, as Halpert accurately notes, has not been going well, and many, although not all, experts are contending it has already been lost.
I disagree it has been lost. As long as 140,000 American troops are fighting in Iraq, the war is not irretrievable. It was announced last night that President Bush will meet Iraqi Premier Noury al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, Nov. 29-30, to discuss the war. At this meeting, a new means of fighting it may emerge, and for the sake of the morale of U.S. and Iraqi government troops, it is essential it does.
Continuing does mean a time of contention in Washington, I agree with Halpert on that. But the price to the U.S. and the West of quitting in Iraq would be too great for us to bear. We see in Lebanon this morning, with the latest assassination, that the appetite of the terrorists for pushing us altogether out of the Middle East, with all the consequences for our oil supply, the future of Israel and peace in Europe, has not diminished. It is stronger than ever.
This is not Vietnam. We have a much greater strategic interest in this war than we did in Southeast Asia. We quit that war with impunity. I don't believe we can do that in this one. There is no way that a retreat of America from Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan, would not adversely affect our standing in the world and our future capacity to stand with our allies.
In the Mid Term elections, the American people registered their impatience, which is understandable. But it will not be until 2008, with election of a new President, that there will likely be a mandate.
Between now and then, also, we cannot expect to see our enemies do nothing. Future attacks may compel American persistence. A major attack in Britain or the United States would shift public opinion dramatically again.
Labels: War Politics