- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

With the Democratic Party leadership intent on making the Bush administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq its No. 1 issue in the November elections, the White House is fighting back with a public campaign to explain the connection between Iraq and the larger war against Islamofascist terror. In a speech delivered yesterday to the Military Officers Association of America (one of the best speeches of his presidency), Mr. Bush quoted extensively from prominent terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi explaining why victory in Iraq was so important to the jihadists who target Americans. Just as bin Laden was emboldened by America’s forced departures from Lebanon and Somalia, the president emphasized, an American defeat in Iraq would likewise be a tremendous morale boost for America’s enemies that would leave this country more vulnerable.

Speaking to the American Legion last week, President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld delivered speeches noting the parallels between the current situation and the failure of many Americans prior to World War II to understand that Nazism and fascism posed posed an existential threat to the United States. “As veterans, you’ve seen this kind of enemy before,” Mr. Bush stated. “They’re successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult. This war will be long and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians.”

Yesterday, the White House issued one of the most comprehensive strategy documents on the war since September 11. “America is at war with a transnational terrorist movement fueled by a radical ideology of hatred, oppression and murder,” reads the opening sentence. In order to defeat the enemy, the United States uses military power as well as “diplomatic, financial, intelligence and law enforcement activities to protect the Homeland and extend our defenses, disrupt terrorist operations, and deprive our enemies of what they need to operate and survive.” And the report notes that the administration has also broken with “old orthodoxies” that had previously confined most U.S. counterterrorism efforts to the courtroom.

The report goes on to detail many successes that have occurred over the past five years, among them the overthrow of the Taliban dictatorship in Afghanistan, the capture three years ago of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks; the death of Abu Musab Zarqawi and other terrorist leaders; Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi’s abandonment of his nuclear weapons programs; the disruption of al Qaeda plots to target the United States; and the ongoing campaign to cut off sources of financing for terrorist organizations.

But, as Mr. Bush noted yesterday, we have a long way to go in order to attain victory in one of the most critical theaters in the war: Iraq: “If we retreat from Iraq … history will look back on our time with unforgiving clarity and demand to know why we did not act … I am not going to allow this to happen.” The president’s determination to win in Iraq has become the defining issue in American politics today.

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