- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

The November elections are fast approaching, and we still don’t have the faintest idea what the Democrats would do in Iraq. That’s because they have no earthly idea and certainly no consensus. That’s why we should call their bluff and make this the issue of the campaign and debate it every day.

For purposes of argument let’s assume as true their debatable allegation that attacking Iraq has set us back in the war on terror because terrorists have used it as a recruiting tool. How should we use this information constructively?

We first have to ask why our attack has driven terrorist recruitment. The antiwar left’s unspoken insinuation is that our attack was immoral, perhaps even criminal, and terrorists, being morally sensitive creatures, are justifiably outraged at our imputed neoconservative imperialism.

Without question, Democrats have been trying to paint America’s invasion of Iraq as criminal. How else can we interpret their endless allegations President Bush lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and about a relationship between Saddam Hussein and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in order to fabricate an excuse for war?

Shouldn’t we, then, just disgracefully withdraw from Iraq, apologize to the terrorists and make amends to the Iraqi people? Of course, that would be problematic, given that we liberated the Iraqis from a brutal dictator, are helping them to establish constitutional self-rule and are defending their new government against terrorists who seek to stifle the people’s will and incite a civil war.

But our invasion was neither immoral nor criminal for a multitude of reasons I’ll not rehash here. Yet we are told terrorists are nevertheless having a recruitment heyday over it. If so, why? Because they can. They hate the United States — they’ve been teaching this hatred in their mosques and madrassas long before Iraq, long before September 11 — and they have exploited our justifiable intervention by warring against us in Iraq and enticing others to join their cause with their (and the Democrats’) Bush-and-America-slamming propaganda.

They appeal to those who share their hatred for the United States and for pluralistic and free societies such as the evil, capitalistic, Israel-supporting American empire is helping to establish in Iraq. To thwart this would both weaken the United States and smother a Muslim democracy, which to them is much worse than a secular tyranny.

Continuing with the assumption that our invasion of Iraq, even if morally justified, swelled terrorist ranks, does that mean — using the full benefit of hindsight — that we shouldn’t have attacked?

I don’t believe our invasion will set us back in the long run unless we withdraw before Iraq can defend itself. If terrorists are using Iraq to stimulate recruitment, they are doing so calculatingly and opportunistically and will exploit any and every other conceivable U.S. action elsewhere to promote recruitment.

Those who believe we can do anything to mollify terrorists or dissuade them from further recruitment efforts are delusional. We might have denied the terrorists a short-term recruitment tool if we had done the wrong thing by letting Saddam continue to be a world menace, but not for long. They would have found another excuse soon enough.

There is no way we can avoid a confrontation with terrorists, who have long since declared war on us. If not Iraq, it would be somewhere else. We couldn’t even avoid confrontation with terrorists by withdrawing from the world. That wouldn’t satisfy them either. They want the United States to be part of the worldwide caliphate as well, and at whatever point we resist, they will have their greatest terrorist recruitment tool yet.

Second-guessing aside, we are in Iraq, so what should we do now? What would Democrats have us do — especially if their main criterion is to minimize further terrorist recruitment? The clear answer, as affirmed in the celebrated, cherry-picked National Intelligence Estimate of April 2006, is that we have to defeat the terrorists in Iraq or they will be emboldened worldwide.

So if Democrats truly believe in the standard they have established, we must defeat the terrorists in Iraq. This means we have to stay there until the Iraqi forces are capable of defending themselves.

So all of the Democrats’ jaw flapping about terrorist recruitment is just so much hot air. Even Democrats should understand that to withdraw before Iraqis can do the job themselves would be to throw the white flag of surrender to the global jihadists, which would be Mogadishu to the 10th power and invite further September 11s to the 10th power. Democratic leaders are mini-emperors with no clothes and no plan, so let’s demand their “plan” without cessation through Election Day.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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