Monday, May 07, 2007

LAT Editorial Calls For US Surrender In Iraq War

Just when the war in Anbar province shows a distinct turn for the better, and there are other signs that the "surge" of American forces is beginning to work, the L.A. Times joins those who pray for American defeat, calling for a withdrawal from Iraq "starting no later than the fall."

"Whatever the future holds, the United States has not 'lost' and cannot 'lose' Iraq. It was never ours in the first place," begins the editorial, which I understand was written by Sonni Efron in the Washington bureau and approved by the new editorial page editor, Jim Newton.

But this, and the rest of the editorial, are determinedly wrongheaded. The fact is, Iraq has been mainly in our hands since the war to liberate Kuwait in 1991. The Maliki "government" has never been in a position to openly defy the United States. Iraq is part of the American empire unless and until we choose to leave. We have more power at present in the Middle East than any other power, by far, and the consequences of giving up that power would be devastating, both to us and to the entire region, not to mention our friends in Europe.

Yet the L.A. Times opts for throwing in the towel and letting everyone know, including, of course, our enemies, that we have a plan to leave.

The editorial coincided Sunday with an Op Ed Page article in the New York Times prepared by Frederick W. Kagan, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former professor of military history at West Point.

Kagan points out these signs of improvement in the war picture: "The rebel Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has apparently fled to Iran; American and Iraqi forces have killed or captured more than 700 key leaders and allies of his Mahdi Army, causing the movement to fragment; sectarian killings in Baghdad in April were about one-third of the level in December.

"There have been gains outside the capital as well. Nearly all of the two dozen or so major tribal leaders in Anbar Province have joined the new Anbar Salvation Council, which is committed to fighting Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists...Even some Sunni Baathist insurgents formerly allied with Al Qaeda are now fighting the foreign terrorists in Anbar and elsewhere."

There is more, but you get the idea. At long last, under the command of General David Petraeus, the U.S. forces have begun to turn the corner, and this is absolutely no time to quit, as Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and the haters of President Bush would have us do, in hopes that all of their criticisms will be vindicated and they could joyfully talk until the end of time about Mr. Bush being the lousiest President in American history.

It is not just some conservative columnist who writes against defeatism. Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have had long articles on the turn of fortunes in Anbar. (A suicide bombing in Ramadi today cannot change the fundamental trend in our favor).

Even the Efron-Newton editorial in the L.A. Times acknowledges, "Having invested so much in Iraq, Americans are likely to find disengagement almost as painful as war." And, it states, "U.S. withdrawal, whether it is concluded next year or five years from now, entails grave risks." And the editorial goes on to list several possibilities -- a bloodbath between sects. an Al Qaeda renaissance in Anbar, meddling by neighbors, even an Iranian proxy state in Baghdad.

These are bad enough to dissuade any rational person from bugging out. But the fact is that the consequences would probably be even more severe. They include the loss of Afghanistan to the Taliban, ouster of moderate Arab regimes from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states west to Egypt and North Africa, new pressure and terrorism against Israel, ever higher oil prices, and a collapse of Western resolve to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. What kind of a world would it be? Surely, not one to our liking. Once the L.A. Times and other doves have their way, there will be no end to the reversal of our fortunes, nor anything but a not-so-slow advance of the 12th Century-style Muslim Caliphate with all its barbarities, slavery and discrimination. The seeping of American strength, protracted over many months, would certainly generate tremendous resentment in the United States, and many Americans would turn against the liberal Democrats who were perceived as having brought this about.

This is a poor start for the new Times editorial page, but Newton is able, and Efron, his assistant in Washington, is at least a good writer. It is never too late for them to change their opinions the way the British Labor Party did in 1940.

The question is, what will it take for there to be a new determination in America to pursue the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq? In Europe, there are signs, such as the election of the conservative Nicholas Sarkozy in France, of a fortified European determination to prevent what has been called the potential Islamization of Europe.

Our army continues to fight with fairly high morale in Iraq, and there indeed have been gains, even though suicide bombers and other desperadoes continue to command the headlines. At this point, the L.A. Times and the other would-be losers should back off and give our men and women there a chance to prevail.

(An addendum: While I disagreed with this editorial, I certainly was glad that it had run in the new Opinion section, and was substantive. The Opinion section so far has been entirely too bland. The most substantive editorials and articles should go there, since circulation of the print edition is more than 300,000 higher on Sundays. It would be nice if Opinion also had an Op Ed page).



Anonymous Matt Weinstock said...

Regarding the INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LOS ANGELES TIMES; consider the source.

5/07/2007 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, this war was nothing more than GW's ego trip, propped up by Zionist/Neo-Con extremists. That would seem to include you, Ken.

Second, the whole notion that by "fighting them there we won't be fighting them here" is bullshit. If al Queda wanted to do something here they would. And there have been plots against domestic targets and attacks in Britain and Spain, all of which have happened since the "Mission Accomplished" stunt.

Third, if there is any concern about whether to leave or stay it is far less about "winning" in the minds of either side here in North America and more about not repeating the abandonment that took place 20 years ago in Afghanistan. The CIA's prompt departure spawned the Taliban's rise to power. Where were the Neo-Cons then? Probably entertaining their own interns with Cuban cigars after hours in Georgetown.

5/08/2007 8:35 PM  

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