- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2005

Vice President Dick Cheney is slated to deliver a major address on Iraq and the war on terror this morning in Washington. Next to President Bush himself, there is probably no one in the administration who has worked harder for the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the replacement of his dictatorship with an Iraqi democratic state governed by the rule of law than the vice president. For his efforts, Mr. Cheney has become a lightning rod for criticism of the administration’s conduct of the war — some of it constructive, but much of it false and intellectually dishonest.

Ever since Mr. Bush’s Veteran’s Day speech rebutting the canard that he lied the country into war, congressional Democrats and parts of the mainstream media have responded by coming up with inventive new ways to show that, even though lawmakers were saying much the same thing as the Bush administration about Saddam Hussein’s WMD capabilities before the war, Mr. Bush must answer for his mistakes, but Democrats deserve in essence a free pass. When the Bush administration tries to defend itself against critics who suggest that the United States should cut and run in Iraq, they accuse the White House of “lashing out” or embarking on some kind of nefarious campaign to attack and discredit critics of the war.

What the administration has yet to do in any kind of systematic way — and we hope Mr. Cheney will begin to do today when he speaks at the American Enterprise Institute — is to directly explain to the American people why we cannot abandon the people of Iraq to the Islamofascists who are murdering them. It is important to explain that there are no easy solutions in Iraq: The idea that we can issue a diplomatic demarche to the democratically elected Iraqi government that we will soon withdraw our troops from Iraq and retain a smaller force nearby is a dangerous illusion. It would send the unmistakable message to the Iraqi people that we are abandoning them and tell Abu Musab Zarqawi et al. that they only need to wait us out.

And what would happen if U.S. forces withdrew, only to return to Iraq after the jihadists seized control of all or part of the country? How would the goals of defeating terror while minimizing American casualties be achieved by forcing our soldiers to go back into Iraq to retake territory that the Islamofascists had captured from an elected Iraqi government?

Those who understand that our security will be undermined if the terrorists win in Iraq need to challenge the politicians like Sen. Edward Kennedy, who deride the effort to give the Iraqi people a decent life as “George Bush’s Vietnam.” In Vietnam, such politicians got their way, and 30 years ago Congress cut off aid that had enabled the people of South Vietnam to defend themselves. The results: More than 60,000 Vietnamese executed, 2 million refugees driven out of South Vietnam, and nearly a quarter of a million sent to “re-education camps.” In neighboring Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge Communist dictatorship killed several million more people.

From what we have seen of Zarqawi and his jihadist associates, if they were to capture the reins of power it would result in a bloodbath. Just as in Indochina, betrayal of the Iraqis today would have deadly consequences.

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