Will we choose to win in Iraq?

From the Weekly Standard 

Thirty-eight years ago, American politics was rocked by another politically controversial war. Then, as now, liberal Democrats competed for the allegiance of an increasingly powerful antiwar left. Then, as now, that constituency flexed its muscles in a key Democratic primary that seemed to turn American politics upside down: In March 1968, Eugene McCarthy almost defeated President Lyndon Johnson in New Hampshire; earlier this month, Ned Lamont triumphed over Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.

And there may be one more parallel. According to Michael Barone, the gold standard in political commentary, many of the voters who pulled the lever for McCarthy were dissatisfied with Johnson’s conduct of the Vietnam war not because they believed the war was wrong or wasteful, but because they believed America was losing it. As Barone puts it in Our Country, voters dissatisfied with Vietnam wanted to “win or get out.”

In Lamont’s speeches, as in the antiwar rants on Daily Kos, the first half of that phrase is missing. The pattern extends beyond the angry left. George F. Will and William F. Buckley Jr. have both written columns basically endorsing the current John F. Kerry view of the Iraq war: that it isn’t worth fighting. Across the ideological spectrum, one hears and reads arguments for pulling back or pulling out. Instead of “win or get out,” the critics’ standard line is simply: Get out.

But do the voters agree? Maybe so. Or maybe they have an attitude similar to the one Barone saw among Vietnam-era voters. A large portion, maybe
a large majority, might believe that Americans should fight only wars that are worth winning, that we should do all in our power to win them, and that the Iraq war meets the first standard but fails the second. The real political problem with Iraq may be not that we’re fighting an unwinnable or less-than-worthwhile war, but that our forces are at serious risk of avoidable defeat.

Removing Saddam Hussein from power was absolutely the right thing to do, and should have been done long ago. The atrocities he committed against the Kurds alone justify his removal, let alone his blatant refusal to live up to the cease fire agreement that ended the first Gulf War, and his continued pursuit of weapons of Mass Destruction. I think most who look at Saddam’s regime agree that he needed to be removed, just as removing Slobodan Milosevic from power in Serbia was the right thing to do… and he killed and tortured far fewer people than Saddam did. Continued UN sanctions (especially those that do not get universal enforcement even from UNSC members who vote for those sanctions to begin with) was obviously not going to force Saddam from power, nor did a popular uprising stand much of a chance at success. The only way to remove Saddam from power was to do so with military force. 

Following the Saddam regime collapse a power vacuum followed in which we have never been able to fully compensate for. I firmly believe that quiting will be far more disastrous for us as a nation and for the world as a whole. Therefore we need the commitment to wage this war as a war… no half assed approach is going to work here. War is brutal.. we need to ensure that our enemies and those who support them know full well just how brutal it is. Our military superiority is unquestioned, what is questioned is the will of politicians to use that force to its full capability.

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