- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2007

Within the last several weeks, Democratic presidential aspirant Barack Obama has announced he would meet with America’s enemies and attack America’s friends. Those interested in a dramatic departure from Bush-Cheney need look no further.

Asked whether he would — without preconditions — meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, the Illinois senator declared he would. He added, “I think it’s a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.” (Actually, the U.S. has had diplomatic contact with all of those nations, just not at the presidential level.)

A week later, in a major foreign policy address, Mr. Obama scolded the leader of Pakistan and warned, “I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again…. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.”

To be fair to Mr. Obama, there is no doubt that Pakistan is a terror haven and a flimsy ally. But Pakistan’s very precariousness in this struggle — to say nothing of its nuclear arsenal — argues for particular finesse and restraint, one would think.

What is it about American allies that Democrats seem to find so offensive? When Jimmy Carter was president, he inaugurated a foreign policy ostentatiously based on respect for “human rights.” Yet the principal targets of his human rights crusade were American allies like the shah of Iran, while traditional enemies like the Soviet Union and Cuba escaped whipping. That turned out well, didn’t it?

We’ve heard endlessly about America’s blunder in supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet occupation. The unintended consequence was to strengthen the Islamists. Fair enough. Few foresaw that our allies in defeating the communists would then turn against us. But what of Jimmy Carter’s abandonment of the shah? No foresight was required. Even in 1979, it was clear the only beneficiaries of a revolution in Iran would be either the leftists or the Islamists. If the mullahs had not seized control of Iran in 1979, the world would be a far, far less dangerous place today.

Mr. Obama rattles his saber at Pakistan, yet sponsored a resolution calling for withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq by March 2008. In this, Mr. Obama speaks for the majority of Democrats. The Democrats’ delusion is that we can win the war on terror (perhaps by lobbing some cruise missiles into the mountains of Pakistan) while losing the war in Iraq. The al Qaeda leadership must welcome this emphasis.

Bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called Iraq “the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.” al-Zawahri probably wouldn’t mind a few cruise missiles headed into Pakistan in exchange for a thorough humiliation of America in Iraq. A defeat for the United States and Britain in Iraq would be the greatest boon possible for the Islamist cause.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic majority leader, famously declared in April that “the war is lost.” What a time to be surrendering. After years of misguided policy and ineffective military strategy, the U.S. forces under Gen. David Petraeus are finally making progress.

Anbar and Diyala provinces, once largely under enemy control, have shifted allegiance. The Sunni tribal leaders are now helping U.S. forces against al Qaeda. Shi’ite death-squad activity and executions in Baghdad have significantly decreased since January. Violence in Anbar has subsided, and normal life is resuming.

As former White House strategist Peter Wehner reported in the Wall Street Journal: “Since the start of the year, Baqubah, al Qaim, Haditha, Hit, Ramadi, Habbaniya, Fallujah, Abu Ghraib and Arab Jabour have all been liberated from al Qaeda control. Arms caches are being found at more than three times the rate of a year ago. Intelligence tips are sharply up. We are also seeing signs of normalcy return to Baghdad, including soccer leagues, amusement parks and vibrant market places. More than half of Baghdad is now under the control of coalition or Iraqi Security Forces.”

The war has been far more difficult, frustrating and long than the administration anticipated. But the Democrats’ answer is to declare defeat and give up just when, at last, there is real reason for optimism. The Democrats believe that defeat in Iraq would be George W. Bush’s defeat. It would not. It would be America’s defeat.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.