First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Democrats: Let's Save Some Lives
The election is over, and the victory of the Democrats is having precisely the consequences in Iraq that anyone paying attention should have predicted.
The people of Iraq interpreted the election results the way the extreme Left wanted them to: As a repudiation, by the American people, of President Bush's war policy.
In fact that is not really what the election "meant," if a national election spread out over hundreds of candidates can be said to "mean" any specific thing.
For instance, in Connecticut, the voters rejected the extremist wing of the Democratic Party (otherwise known as "The Democratic Party") by reelecting Joseph Lieberman, the most notable (but not the only) Democrat who has the brains to understand that the War on Terror is vital to our national security.
And many of the new Democrats in Congress were elected because they ran to the right -- they coopted many of the stances that are usually identified as Republican.
So what, exactly, is our new Congress composed of? Certainly it will be the Democratic Party that organizes both houses this winter, and makes committee assignments, and sets out to harass the White House as much as possible, to punish George W. Bush for being a better President than America had any right to have at this crucial time in our history.
What the new Congress most definitely does not have is a majority to enact the Democratic agenda on any point.
That is, unless the new crop of quasi-Republican Democrats were pulling a Bill Clinton and lying about their principles in order to get elected. We'll find that out soon enough -- if they vote just like other Democrats, then we'll know they were liars, because they promised not to.
And the new Congress does not have a majority to force a withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.
This is obviously true, because Joseph Lieberman is the crucial vote, and he knows we cannot afford to do anything so stupid, so contrary to our interests and inimical to our allies in the Middle East (of which we have many, despite the claims of opponents of the war).
There are also too many Democrats in the House who come from districts where a vote for forcing a troop withdrawal on a timetable (i.e., "surrender") would be the end of that Congressman's career.
The trouble is that the people of Iraq don't know that. They only know what our anti-Bush media tell them, which is that our election was an enormous defeat for Bush's war policy, and what their anti-American media tell them, which is that our election was an enormous victory for Al-Qaeda and the Sunni insurgents (a.k.a. murderers and terrorists) in Iraq.
The Sunni insurgents celebrated their victory by slaughtering Shiites.
Previously, the Shiites have shown astonishing self-restraint (for Arab countries) when provoked, because their leaders were able to persuade them that the Americans would deal with the Sunnis until the Iraqi defense forces were able to take over the job.
But now, because of the way our election has been portrayed, the Shiites no longer have any trust that America will remain. They think -- wrongly -- that the American people favor a cowardly, selfish retreat from a policy on which the Iraqi Shiites and Kurds have staked their lives.
So the result is that Shiite leaders are no longer able -- perhaps no longer willing -- to restrain the most violent among the Shiites. That was what it meant when Shiites retaliated for the Sunni atrocities with atrocities of their own -- burning Sunnis alive.
Many Shiites have no choice but to believe that they have to defend themselves -- that they have to turn the insurgency into an all-out civil war.
Now, the American media and the extreme Left have been claiming it was already a civil war in Iraq. They are being proven wrong now, as it starts to become exactly that and we can finally see what civil war looks like.
If there is an open, all-out civil war, the Shiites will win, and they will do it by slaughtering Sunnis or driving them completely out of Iraq and into Syria, which, after all, has been funding and supplying the Sunni thugs.
But which Shiites will win? Why, the most violent ones -- the ones most likely to establish a dictatorship every bit as cruel as any others in the Middle East.
President Bush's policy had led to the best, most peace-loving Shiite leaders being predominant in Iraq; civil war will lead to the worst Shiites rising to leadership.
And it looks like anybody in Iraq with any money at all is buying plane tickets and getting out of the country.
All because shortsighted, ignorant, or malicious "anti-war" Democrats misled the American people into thinking our war effort was a failure and was doing no good. The result is that now our war effort is failing, not because of President Bush, but specifically and directly because of the Democratic victory.
People are dying now in Iraq, and fleeing the country as well, because the Democrats won, and because this victory is being universally interpreted as a sign that Americans will skedaddle from Iraq the way an early generation's Congress betrayed South Vietnam.
This is an emergency. The anti-war faction does not have a majority, but if the current deterioration continues -- if confidence in American resolve is not restored immediately -- then the situation in Iraq will collapse to the point where the pro-democracy leaders are unable to reverse the situation.
Democrats must speak up -- now. It is too much to expect the Congressional Democratic leadership to act in a statesmanlike way -- if they were capable of such a thing, then the election would not have been about the war at all, since they would have been in support of at least its general aims.
So what we need, immediately, is press conferences from brave Democrats who know that we cannot afford to lose this war -- or cowardly Democrats who know they cannot get reelected if we lose this war.
They must declare in clear and forceful terms that they will not vote to withdraw American troops until the job is done.
The Republican Party must make similar affirmations: We are not going to cut and run.
The liberal extremist press in America (a.k.a. "the press") will hate it, but they will report the accurate vote counts -- the fact that there is not a majority for betrayal of pro-democracy Iraqis by withdrawing our troops prematurely. (They will report them because the blogs and Fox News will report the facts.)
But we don't have time for them to wait until they're done with their Christmas shopping. The situation in Iraq is deteriorating so quickly that it must be staved off now. And President Bush can't do it, since he's now widely perceived as a lame duck.
(That perception is ridiculously false, of course: America has a President, not a prime minister, and Bush's power to continue this war and stand by his word is so strong that it would be extremely difficult for a Congress with such a narrow Democratic majority to enact such a radical change in war policy.)
Get up on your feet, Democrats! Prove that you deserve the trust of the American people. Prove that you are capable of thinking beyond immediate politics.
Prove that you actually care that people are getting killed because you were elected, and tell them that they must go back to trusting in democracy -- and in American support for democracy.
It's time to repudiate the platitudes of the fanatical, fantasy-believing radical Left and recognize that any nation can have democracy, given time enough; and that the overwhelming majority of people in every nation on this earth want stable, safe, liberal democracy as their form of government -- and should have it as their birthright.
Unless Democrats speak now to stanch the flow of blood and stem the tide of panic in Iraq, then the situation will soon move beyond the ability of our brave soldiers to contain it. We can only succeed with the trust and support of the Iraqi people -- which, until now, we have largely had, solely because we kept reelecting George W. Bush, whom they knew to be a man of his word.
The President's word was given. The American people may have been sold the false idea that the war has been badly run, but they certainly did not vote to withdraw unilaterally from Iraq. The President's word is therefore our word.
From this moment on, if we come to defeat in Iraq, it will not be President Bush's fault. It will be, completely and exclusively, the fault of the Democratic Party. And it is the responsibility of the Democratic Party -- or at least the saner members of that party -- to speak up and do all they can to prevent that defeat.
Here is the message that must be sent to the Iraqi people -- and to all the pro-democracy heroes in every nation in the Muslim world, who take their lives in their hands by standing against the Islamo-fascists: "America will not let you down."
Send that message. Because failing to send it, now, loud and clear, sends the opposite message: America will let you down. America has let you down. America cannot be trusted. So if you want to be on the winning side, you must join Al Qaeda or the ayatollahs.
And if that message is allowed to become the firm belief of people throughout the world, then we will look back nostalgically on the "Iraq War" as a holiday.
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