- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2007

The terrorists and their sympathizers in Iraq keep saying U.S. resolve is fading — and that American troops will soon fade away with it. But a headline last week told a different story: “U.S. general says Iraq needs buildup into ‘08.”

What’s this — are the Americans still determined to win in Iraq? How unsettling that possibility must be for Sunni insurgents, Shi’ite zealots, al Qaeda killers and any armed Ba’athists still lurking about.

This can’t be what they had expected. At this point in a long cruel war, the Americans were supposed to be packing up and pulling out. Instead they’re being reinforced.

Our enemies weren’t counting on American resilience. Of course not. They don’t believe in it. Indeed, they’ve made its absence an article of faith.

The decadent West’s supposed weakness — lack of staying power in any protracted conflict — is central not just to the enemy’s strategy but its ideology, which holds that a corrupt, faithless West will be no match for a newly militant Islam.

It hasn’t been too long since al Qaeda’s second-in-command was confidently saying Iraq would prove just a repeat of Vietnam. Speaking of those Iraqis now cooperating with our troops, he predicted America “is about to depart and abandon them, just as it abandoned their like in Vietnam.”

What a shock it must been when a new American general took command with a new strategy. Another 20,000 American troops are being readied to secure Baghdad. And then, in cooperation with Iraqi forces, they are to begin spreading out, taking and holding enemy strongholds beyond the capital.

The terrorists are reported to be clearing out of Baghdad, headed for safer havens. What a revolting development this must be for our enemies.

And not just for our enemies. Because a new, Democrat-dominated Congress is objecting mightily to this show of strength — and this administration’s determination, despite everything, to pursue victory. Democratic leaders are reacting with cries of outrage — and mounting threats to cut off support for the war, all the while proclaiming their support for the troops.

It seems a strange way to support the troops, shutting off funds for the military and objecting to reinforcements —even while padding this latest appropriation for the war with all kinds of pork, from assorted farm subsidies to flood control projects. There may be a war on, but the special interests will get their money as usual.

Then there are all those deadlines and requirements and “benchmarks” being pressed on the military by Congress. Not since Vietnam has a Congress seemed so determined to micromanage a war. Or maybe since the days of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, which looked over Abraham Lincoln’s shoulder while he was trying to save the Union, occasionally jiggling his elbow at critical moments.

That the Constitution of the United States makes the president commander in chief of the armed forces must strike the John Murthas and Nancy Pelosis as only a technicality. They seem to be outdoing each other at devising ways to impose one restriction after another on his conduct of the war. If they actually succeed in hamstringing the armed forces of the United States, the American people will not forgive them or their party. Or at least the American people shouldn’t.

In the Senate, a couple of Democrats, Joe Biden and Carl Levin, have put forth a resolution demanding that all American combat troops be called home by March 2008. This would put our enemies on notice that, if they can just hold out till then, they’ll have a clear field.

Congress could scarcely send a more hopeful message to America’s foes. Or a more dispiriting one to the troops in the field, who at this point may simply want to be left alone to fight this war as best they can. With this kind of “support” in Congress, they need no interference.

Those of us who find it incomprehensible Congress should be toying with cutting off funds for American troops in the midst of a war are being assured such resolutions are nonbinding, that they’re just for show. That’s supposed to make them all right. Because all these resolutions are just a handy way for our solons to appease popular antiwar feeling without accepting responsibility for the drastic steps they propose.

But this little escape clause, like the unconvincing talk about supporting the troops even while cutting off funds for the war they’re fighting, scarcely makes such tactics more palatable. It only makes them insincere.

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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