Monday, July 06, 2009

Liberty And Liberation On July 4


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, July 02, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Mission Accomplished: The withdrawal of U.S. troops from 15 Iraqi cities makes this a time to remember the sacrifices that made success possible — and the president who refused to lose.

Read More: Iraq

The concerns that former Vice President Dick Cheney recently expressed regarding our forces in Iraq are not to be taken lightly.

Reacting to the announcement last week that U.S. soldiers would leave Iraq's cities in a 24-hour span, Cheney reflected to the Washington Times that "one might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks."

Army soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 7th Calvary, Fort Hood, Texas, pause for a photograph at an American base on the outskirts of Baghdad. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraqi cities last Tuesday in the first step toward winding down the war effort by the end of 2011.<br />

Army soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 7th Calvary, Fort Hood, Texas, pause for a photograph at an American base on the outskirts of Baghdad. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraqi cities last Tuesday in the first step toward winding down the war effort by the end of 2011.

The former defense secretary for the first President Bush understood that the Iraqis eventually "have to stand on their own, but I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point."

With over 4,300 of our servicemen and women having fallen to rid the world of the threat of Saddam Hussein and bring freedom to Iraq, it certainly should be a priority not to waste so much valor.

Unfortunately, President Obama's main concern seems to be something else: Keeping to his self-imposed, artificial timetable to end U.S. combat operations in little more than a year and get all our troops out by the close of 2011.

The president calls the troop pullback a "precious opportunity." But it's as much an opportunity for sleeper insurgent terrorists within Iraq, not to mention for neighboring Islamofascist Iran, as it is for the Iraqi people. That is why the U.S. should not get itself wedded to the feel-good notion that the mission is irreversibly accomplished.

With everyone fully aware that more violence is certain no matter how well prepared Iraq's more than 600,000 security force personnel may now be, the president warned of "difficult days ahead." He said he knew "there are those who will test Iraq's security forces and the resolve of the Iraqi people through more sectarian bombings and the murder of innocent civilians."

But he also made it pretty clear that the Iraqis will soon no longer be able to depend on America. "Iraq's leaders must now make some hard choices necessary to resolve key political questions to advance opportunity and provide security for their towns and their cities," the president said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking last Monday when four soldiers were killed, called Iraq "still a dangerous situation." Yet the president considers our activities there to be so off Americans' political radar screens that he is handing Iraq policy over to the increasingly clownish Vice President Joe Biden.

Sweeping Iraq under the rug is no way to finish such a gruelingly difficult job. The president's obvious wish that Iraq go away as he turns to other foreign policy challenges is in stark contrast to the manner in which his immediate predecessor handled the long war there.

President George W. Bush does not escape blame in his handling of Iraq. He should have recognized much sooner that the U.S. military strategy, which was not focused enough on counterinsurgency, was not working well.

Perhaps a Ronald Reagan would have done better on that mark. But once Bush saw that he had an intolerable situation on his hands he did something extraordinary.

Almost the entire Washington establishment of both parties ganged up on the White House to force a kind of "dignified surrender" down the president's throat. His father's secretary of state, James Baker, was summoned to co-direct what became known as the Iraq Study Group. Even conservative hero Ed Meese, Reagan's attorney general, was prevailed upon to join up.

But what the Iraq Study Group failed to study in very much depth was George W. Bush's rock-solid commitment to winning the war the terrorists started on Sept. 11, 2001. As Bob Woodward quoted him telling congressional Republicans visiting the White House in 2005, "I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney (the White House dog) are the only ones supporting me."

Bush's response to a unified, defeatist Washington was the Surge — substantial reinforcements led by a new commander, counterinsurgency warfare guru Gen. David Petraeus. Most experts and commentators said it had no chance of succeeding. Today, all concede that the Surge turned Iraq around.

It is questionable if even Reagan could have resisted the kind of united pressure from political friend and foe alike that George W. Bush was under during the months preceding the Surge. As we celebrate this 4th of July, we should be thankful for a 43rd president who refused to allow another Vietnam.

And we should hope his successor does not undo what history will remember as one of the great instances of presidential fortitude.

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