Democrats in Congress Reinforce Terrorist Beliefs

By: Greg C. Reeson

As the Senate and House of Representatives continue to work feverishly on measures criticizing the President’s conduct of the war in Iraq and calling for immediate to near-term troop withdrawals, a clear message is being sent to terrorists throughout the world: America does not have the stomach for a prolonged fight that slowly bleeds her of her sons and daughters in uniform.

The terrorists we are fighting have known for a long time that the American public would start to question the war if they could just drag it out long enough and cause enough casualties. Bin Laden has repeatedly stated that he didn’t believe the United States had the will to fight a war of attrition because we could not tolerate heavy losses.

This thought process was reinforced by our premature withdrawal from Beirut in 1983, after the bombing of the Marine barracks, and after our departure from Somalia in 1993, following a bloody battle in Mogadishu that downed two Blackhawk helicopters and killed nearly twenty Army Rangers. It was further reinforced during the 1990s by our unwillingness to put soldiers on the ground in the Balkans, choosing instead to fight a war from the air with minimal risk to American servicemen and women.

The terrorists have come to understand that if they target our public perception through the media they can influence the outcome of any fight with American forces. Our superpower status does us little good if we are unwilling to pay the price that victory demands. Extremists the world over know that if they can avoid conventional engagements and attack us at the time and place of their choosing, they will make the fight costly and increase the odds of us losing our will.

I have written before that Americans have become conditioned by quick, easy victories that involved minimal loss of American life: Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, and Desert Storm in 1991. We have become accustomed to “Nintendo” warfare where we watch precision-guided weapons fly into air ducts and windows to take out our enemies while leaving our forces largely untouched.

That conditioning has caused us over time to forget the terrible costs of war. Combat is an ugly business in which military forces and civilians die brutal deaths under horrific conditions. We don’t like to see the realities of war on the evening news and chant the mantra that the historically low casualty rate in Iraq is “unacceptable.”

Democrats, and a few Republicans, have seized on this public aversion to American loss of life and have pursued measures that undermine our mission and our commander in chief. The belief that if we just leave Iraq and come home the violence will stop has somehow taken hold of the American public’s psyche. We could not be more wrong. A withdrawal now will cost us much more dearly later on.

Al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wrote in a letter to the late al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, that the jihadist mission would not end if the United States left Iraq. The mission would change to one of spreading Islamic rule to neighboring secular governments in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco and Kuwait, with the eventual goal of subjugating the entire world under the banner of Islam. To leave Iraq now would be to abandon our allies in the short-term only to have to help them, and ourselves, survive in the long-term.

There are many who argue that al-Qaeda in Iraq is not the driving force behind the insurgency. They are correct. The main source of violence outside of al-Anbar Province is sectarian in nature, with Sunnis and Shiites systematically killing each other in order to consolidate as much power as possible. This is a problem that only Iraqis can solve, and the Iraqi government must find a solution in order to quell the bloodshed.

In al-Anbar, though, the Sunni insurgents attacking coalition forces have had to deal with foreign fighters attempting to carve out a jihadist enclave from which to further their Islamic revolution. The Sunnis have begun to fight back against the jihadists and have increasingly cooperated with American forces to root them out. But the jihadists are not finished yet. To leave Iraq now would be to leave open the possibility that Islamic extremists could indeed stake out a home in al-Anbar from which they could take their fight to neighboring countries.

Those in the Congress now leading the charge to withdraw our forces are, unintentionally I’m sure, helping the terrorists realize their goal of establishing a foothold in Iraq. By adhering to partisan politics and pandering to what is perceived to be public opinion, they are ignoring the national security interests of the United States for political gain, and reinforcing the terrorist belief that America will not stay and fight when the battles become too bloody.

Every life lost in Iraq is a tragedy. But the price for our survival as a nation will have to be paid some day. We can continue the fight in Iraq now, or we can face the terrorists later at the time and place of their choosing. As a soldier who has spent sixteen months in Iraq, I would rather take a stand now and prove the terrorists wrong. That way, God willing, my children will not have to do so in the years to come.

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