The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Saturday, May 26, 2007
9th Inning in Iraq: Now it is time to Take off the Gloves
Op-ed writers (and presidential candidates) will of course continue in the coming months to deny the obvious: That we are fighting (pace John Edwards) a real war on terror; that Iraq is, as al Qaeda says it is, the war's central front; and that the Iranians and Syrians are actively supporting our enemies. But the Bush administration, with congressional obstruction on hold, can move ahead with policies that deal with reality.
The reality is that foreign fighters are flowing into Iraq to kill Iraqis and Americans. Almost all suicide bombers in Iraq are foreign fighters, for whom this is the crucial battle. This means that our victory there will be an important victory in the larger struggle against terrorism--and our defeat there would embolden and empower our enemies. And the reality is that Iran and Syria are enemies. Most foreign fighters join al Qaeda in Iraq via Syria. And Iran has been sending advanced weapons and advisers into Iraq. These weapons and insurgents supported by Iran are killing our soldiers on a daily basis. There should be no doubt about the hostile role Iran and Syria are playing in Iraq today.
General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are already focused on these realities. They've just completed a strategic review and are pursuing a joint campaign plan to win the war. But even as the leaders of the political and military effort in the theater work to grapple with real problems, some in the Bush administration continue to toy with exit strategies and diplomatic strategies that imperil the victory strategy the president has embraced.
[...] Congressional battles calling into doubt our commitment to winning in Iraq have been the major threat to progress since the president began pursuing the right strategy in January. The president, supported by congressional Republicans, has beaten back that threat. Now he needs to deal with his own administration, which has not made up its collective mind to support the president's strategy wholeheartedly. Mixed messages from Bush's advisers and cabinet undermine the efforts of our commanders in the field. The president adopted a new strategy four months ago. The new commander took over three months ago, and the new ambassador not long after. All the military units will soon be in place, and the provincial reconstruction teams constituted. This is no time to hedge or hesitate. Now is the time to put everything behind making the president's strategy--which looks to be a winning strategy--succeed.