- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

In arguing that all U.S. combat troops should be “redeployed” (read, “withdrawn”) from Iraq by July 1 of next year, Sen. John Kerry employs rhetoric that suggests that leaving Iraqis alone to face the jihadists is in the great American tradition of supporting individual responsibility. To hear him tell it, the main obstacle to the Iraqis’ being able to build a functioning country isn’t the common criminals Saddam Hussein freed from jail, the disgruntled former Ba’athists or other Sunnis who benefitted from Saddam’s dictatorship, or even foreign foreign jihadists who go to Iraq to blow themselves up. The real “problem” is that President Bush insists on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq until the Iraqis are properly trained and can defend themselves.

Appearing on “Imus in the Morning,” Mr. Kerry explained the pullout plan that he and Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, propose: “Our large troop presence delays the willingness of Iraqis to stand up for themselves.” He added: “… it’s human nature… I mean, if you’ve got somebody else there to do the job for you, if you’ve got somebody else to rely on, who’s out there, you know, with greater ability to take risks. You’ve got to force people to go stand up. We forced them to take responsibility after the provisional government shift. We forced them to have the elections, basically.”

Such advice makes sense if it’s advice to an adult who has lost his job and is worried about losing his unemployment check, and it makes sense if we’re talking about an adolescent who sponges off mom and dad rather than seriously looking for a summer job. But the same advice becomes child abuse if addressed to a toddler or an infant, and that’s what Mr. Kerry and most of the Senate Democrats are offering in regards to Iraq. It’s just over three years since Saddam Hussein was ousted, and the United States has worked in that time to guide the Iraqis in building functioning security forces. The appointments of defense and an interior ministers were announced only three weeks ago.

The Kerry solution would be tantamount to abuse, and impossible to spin otherwise, which is why it won the support of only 12 of the chamber’s 44 Democrats, and was defeated by a lopsided 86 to 13 vote. Most Democrats clearly want to get as far away from Mr. Kerry’s plan as possible. When he said he was not under pressure from fellow Democrats to withdraw his resolution, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, standing behind Mr. Kerry on the Senate floor, raised his eyebrows and winked at reporters. But Mr. Dodd and many of the others who had the good sense to vote against the Kerry proposal nevertheless embraced an alternative scheme, introduced by Sens. Jack Reed and Carl Levin, that would have exhorted President Bush to abandon the Iraqis as soon as possible. The Reed-Levin resolution was defeated by a 60 to 39 vote, further embarrassing their party. The minority party is determined to learn the hard way that it’s impossible to spin “cut and run” as a strategy to defeat Islamofascism.

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