Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Give Victory A Chance

Ever get the feeling, reading the papers and listening to the radio, that there are people who can't wait for a formal declaration of defeat in Iraq? That they WANT America to lose?

Many Americans hear this and assume, "Well, we've already lost. It's over." Are they right?

Before you shout "Damn straight!," all I ask is that you read these two contrarian opinions first.

One is a comparison to Vietnam that John Kerry WON'T like. The other outlines why Gen. Petraeus--who might just know a little more about fighting in Iraq than the average MSNBC pundit--deserves our support. Who knows? Maybe the guy who just re-wrote our entire military counterinsurgency manual based on his experiences in Iraq might be onto something.

It is true that the Iraq war is costing America billions of dollars and, most tragic, thousands of lives. But have you noticed that the advocates of defeat never sell price? They never talk about the cost in lives if we abandon the Iraq mission now. Estimates start in the tens of thousands, and go all the way up to the hundreds of thousands. And those most likely to die will be those Iraqis who reject Islamism or militant factionalism. The moderates will be dead or driven out. The extremists will govern.

Then there's the dollar amount. Instability means $3 a gallon gasoline. Islamists controlling the oil means the same, and maybe worse. Oil money flowing to Islamists means (as Iran proves every day) more money for terrorism.

The events of September 11, 2001 cost America a minimum of half a TRILLION dollars, not to mention to horrific losses of life, the echoing health effects to rescue workers, etc. etc. Will a defeat of democracy in Iraq mean another attack is more or less likely? How many $500 billion paydays are the advocates of defeat willing to accept?

Is it possible we can help the wobbling Iraqis erect a third-way society amid the Islamists and dictators of the Middle East? Gen. Petraeus says yes. The cost of giving our military the chance to finish the job is a few more billion dollars (a tenth of the cost of another 9/11), and yes--the lives of some Americans who have bravely volunteered to defend our nation.

What happens, however, if we say "no, the price is too high" today, and the Islamist-dominated Middle East that follows America's full retreat attack us again? Thousands of dead Americans will pay the price in Boston or Detroit or LA, and we will be forced to turn our attention to the Middle East AGAIN. What will the advocates of defeat say on that day? "Boy, I'm sure glad we got out of Iraq so we could rest up before we have to go back again!"

People who are unwilling to give victory a chance are those who simply have not calculated the true cost of defeat.

UPDATE: Of course, not everyone agrees. Some say 9/11 wasn't such a big deal in the first place, and war is an overreaction.