- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tony Blankley writes that “six years after the September 11 attacks, there is no consensus in the United States or in Europe as to the nature and magnitude of the threat” and in the absence of agreement, “we aren’t likely to be able to agree on the means of protecting ourselves from it” (“The war on terror six years on,” Op-Ed, Wednesday).

Helle Dale writes that “rarely has more information been available to policy-makers about our progress on the ground that could be the foundation of a genuine debate over the way forward and the possible outcomes for the most important foreign engagement of our time” (“Hopeful signs in Iraq,” Op-Ed, Wednesday).

Two events this week reveal one reason for the disconnect between these observations: the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus and comments by liberals before and afterward. Democratic nominees for president led the charge.

Hurling insults

Speaking before Congress, Gen. Petraeus presented details of success of the surge. Facing innuendo and claims of dishonesty — and ranting and insults from Congress’ Democratic membership — he stuck to facts. They fell on deaf ears.

There is so much hate for President Bush by left-wing fanatics, including Democratic leaders of Congress, that the accuracy of Gen. Petraeus’ comments is disregarded. Disparagement of his honesty reveals a Democratic Party that has lost its bearings, a party myopic to long-term dangers our country faces.

Sucking up to financially supportive roots, Democratic nominees fan the flames of sophistry created by the liberal press and bloggers and disgrace themselves.

It is hard to imagine anyone other than the radical left supporting the bilge that presents itself as the leadership of the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy.

It is confounding that anyone would vote for any Democratic presidential nominee. The thought of one of them being elected is frightening.

Mr. Blankley observes: “We live in much greater jeopardy than we need to because we remain divided and confused.” Division and confusion will be the bread and butter of the Democratic Party until November 2008. Hopefully, the electorate will be more discriminating in their diet. The future of our children depends upon it.

ROBERT HARGEST

Alexandria

Shame on the Democrats

I have never in my life been so embarrassed by my government’s elected officials than this week, as the “gentlemen” of Congress defamed and persecuted a fine and honorable man, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and his associate, the good Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker (“General defends report, integrity,” Page 1, Tuesday).

All Americans should be ashamed that men such as these, the front line of righteousness and messengers from the front, should be treated as so much fodder for the cannon of self-aggrandizement.

Those who would attack the character of Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker speak of all they want for themselves but have shown little of the commitment that armed forces have shown in protecting our country.

They feed the fires of selfishness and the need for power rather than the honor of being servants of the people and the greater responsibility that being an American brings. Such members of Congress will hide in the halls where they serve.

Someday, I hope again to see a new generation of men and women of honor, courage and commitment in Congress. Until then, we wait and watch as the America previous generations have built withers under the shortsighted and self-serving.

PAT HAMP

Oak Hill, Va.

“President Bush will endorse the recommendation of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus ” according to the article “Bush backs Iraq troop cut” (Page 1, Wednesday).

Of course he will why wouldn’t he? Mr. Bush picked Gen. Petraeus, and Mr. Bush picks people who do and say as they are told. “President Bush will endorse his own proposals” would have been a more accurate headline.

The president is calling for 30,000 troops to be withdrawn by next summer. First, why is Mr. Bush giving the enemy a timetable? By next summer, we’ll be right back where we were when the president ignored the Iraq Study Group report.

It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The whole point of this exercise is to ensure that Mr. Bush’s war continues until it’s time for him to leave office. He decided we should be in Iraq, and no force on earth can get him to admit that might have been a mistake.

So it’s all about keeping us there until someone else gets us out and Mr. Bush can say, “It would have worked but my successor chose to cut and run.”

Meanwhile, brave American soldiers are killed and maimed every day, fighting and dying mainly to save Mr. Bush’s ego. What a tragic waste of lives and money.

ROGER ALTON

Phoenix

Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are providing testimony on the progress in the war in Iraq even as significant debate continues regarding just how to assess developments in the war (“Petraeus eyes troop reduction,” Page 1, Tuesday).

One major issue that appears to be lacking in most discussions is the disposition of sectarian militias such as Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, and their potential next steps.

Even though al-Sadr has instructed his troops not to attack, some sources have quoted recent Department of Defense reports as indicating that the Mahdi Army has “replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence in Iraq.”

Al-Sadr recently called for his militia to cease its operations for six months in order to reorganize and ostensibly for him to regain control of the more radical elements in which he has had lesser influence.

Should others do likewise such as the Badr Corps, which opposes the Mahdi Army a false sense of security and success could motivate a premature U.S. withdrawal. This would provide sectarian forces with room to conduct combat operations against each other and throw Iraq into greater chaos.

Even if neighboring countries do not become directly involved, they will continue to provide supplies, funds, fighters and safe havens to the militias of their choice. This will ensure that the conflict continues indefinitely and force Iraq’s 27 million citizens most of whom are not combatants to choose sides. Although Gen. Petraeus’ strategy has likely done what he said it would, it has not addressed the underlying social and political root causes of the civil conflict in Iraq. If the single largest unified military force withdraws, Iraq will no longer have the limited safety and security it appears to have today. To paraphrase him, the military alone cannot win the war in Iraq.

Until the United States and the rest of the world begin applying as many resources to addressing these nonmilitary root causes as they have to the overt military challenges, the war in Iraq will continue.

Although the Iraqis certainly are responsible for their own social justice, the enormous level of U.S. involvement means that it is the responsibility of Mr. Crocker and the State Department to see that these root causes are addressed.

Unfortunately, most indications are that we are failing, and in an appalling manner. Safety and security of any appreciable level in Iraq are only as certain as the U.S. military’s ability to provide them and that has its operational and political limits.

MATTHEW B. ROWE

Executive director

Winthegwot.org

Indianapolis

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