The consequences of losing in Iraq

On the heels of Rich Lowry’s defeatist Democrat theme (which I blogged about here) and W. Thomas Smith, Jr.’s piece on the potential negative effect on Iraq war pulblic opinion thanks to media mis-reporting on Operation Swarmer (blogged about here) comes this editorial from the WSJ that discusses the consequences of the US failing in Iraq:

With that in mind, it’s worth thinking through what would happen if the U.S. does fail in Iraq. By fail, we mean cut and run before giving Iraqis the time and support to establish a stable, democratic government that can stand on its own. Beyond almost certain chaos in Iraq, here are some other likely consequences:

• The U.S. would lose all credibility on weapons proliferation. One doesn’t have to be a dreamy-eyed optimist about democracy to recognize that toppling Saddam Hussein was a milestone in slowing the spread of WMD. Watching the Saddam example, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi decided he didn’t want to be next. Gadhafi’s “voluntary” disarmament in turn helped uncover the nuclear network run by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan and Iran’s two decades of deception.

Now Iran is dangerously close to acquiring nuclear weapons, a prospect that might yet be headed off by the use or threat of force. But if the U.S. retreats from Iraq, Iran’s mullahs will know that we have no stomach to confront them and coercive diplomacy will have no credibility. An Iranian bomb, in turn, would inspire nuclear efforts in other Mideast countries and around the world.

• Broader Mideast instability. No one should underestimate America’s deterrent effect in that unstable region, a benefit that would vanish if we left Iraq precipitously. Iran would feel free to begin unfettered meddling in southern Iraq with the aim of helping young radicals like Moqtada al-Sadr overwhelm moderate clerics like the Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

Syria would feel free to return to its predations in Lebanon and to unleash Hezbollah on Israel. Even allies like Turkey might feel compelled to take unilateral, albeit counterproductive steps, such as intervening in northern Iraq to protect their interests. Every country in the Middle East would make its own new calculation of how much it could afford to support U.S. interests. Some would make their own private deals with al Qaeda, or at a minimum stop aiding us in our pursuit of Islamists.

• We would lose all credibility with Muslim reformers. The Mideast is now undergoing a political evolution in which the clear majority, even if skeptical of U.S. motives, agrees with the goal of more democracy and accountable government. They have watched as millions of Iraqis have literally risked their lives to vote and otherwise support the project. Having seen those Iraqis later betrayed, other would-be reformers would not gamble their futures on American support. Nothing could be worse in the battle for Muslim “hearts and minds” than to betray our most natural allies.

• We would invite more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Osama bin Laden said many times that he saw the weak U.S. response to Somalia and the Khobar Towers and USS Cole bombings as evidence that we lacked the will for a long fight. The forceful response after 9/11 taught al Qaeda otherwise, but a retreat in Iraq would revive that reputation for American weakness. While Western liberals may deny any connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, bin Laden and the rest of the Arab world see it clearly and would advertise a U.S. withdrawal as his victory. Far from leaving us alone, bin Laden would be more emboldened to strike the U.S. homeland with a goal of driving the U.S. entirely out of the Mideast.

We could go on, but our point is that far more is at stake in Iraq than President Bush’s approval rating or the influence of this or that foreign-policy faction. U.S. credibility and safety are at risk in the most direct way imaginable, far more than they were in Vietnam. In that fight, we could establish a new anti-Communist perimeter elsewhere in Southeast Asia. The poison of radical Islam will spread far and wide across borders if it can make even a plausible claim to being on the ascendancy, and nothing would show that more than the retreat of America from Iraq.

Read the whole thing.

The President has made it clear realizes the above is what’s at stake here, which is why he’s gone on the offensive regarding what’s on the line with Operation Iraqi Freedom. The problem is, the mainstream media who harp incessantly on the negative and the Defeatocrats who want the US to pull out too soon due, in part, to their slavish devotion to making the President admit failure even if it comes at the cost of the US’ reputation, do NOT seem to get this. If nothing else keeps people from voting Democrat in the ’06 elections, this should.

Read more via the Political Pit Bull, The Jawa Report (must-read!)

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