On Iraq: Okay, Democrats, Now What?

Democrats take charge!

For the Republicans’ loss of Congress, credit public anger over Iraq. Not just because, as the president put it, "Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough," but the accusation — often unchallenged by members of the mainscream media — that "President Bush lied us into the war."

After the Democratic takeover of Congress, one pundit simply wrote off this hideous allegation as mere pre-election posturing. You know, just "politics." Thus, the Democrats slander the commander in chief during a period of wartime. And, after they win, it’s just political chitchat.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, once posted on his website the alleged acts of the president that, in his view, constitute grounds for impeachment. Suddenly, before the election, Conyers removed this from his website. And incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls the impeachment efforts now "off the table."

Surely, if the president indeed "lied us into the war," he damn well deserves impeachment. But now that the Democrats captured Congress, they suddenly stopped believing that President Bush sent men and women into harm’s way as a result of a calculated, considered, deliberate deceit.

In 2000 and 2004, many Democrats yelled about "stolen elections" and voter "disenfranchisement." In a letter to Democrats in Ohio, John Kerry claimed that state election officials stole the election from him. But what of the lack of Republican cries of voter fraud, "disenfranchisement" and demands for investigations? Apparently, when Democrats win, elections function smoothly, but when Republicans win, the fix is in.

Pre-election, Democrats claimed they possessed a "unified" strategy to deal with Iraq. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had a "four-point plan." Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the architect of the Democratic House takeover, touted his "five-point plan." But on election night, after the Democratic takeover became obvious, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., offered a slightly different perspective.

Sherman: I don’t think the party has united behind a plan that is any more specific than we should leave a little sooner than George Bush has in mind.

Elder: That’s not much of a plan.

Sherman: The voters did not require us to have a plan. . . . Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future and whether the Democratic idea or the Republican plan on this or that issue is going to be good. . . .

Elder: But I remember watching Sunday morning chat shows and hearing Chuck Schumer say the Democrats were united behind a plan to deal with Iraq. I heard Rahm Emanuel say the Democrats were united behind a plan for Iraq. Now what I’m hearing you say is whatever our plan is, we’re not going to stay quite as long as George W. Bush would stay. So which is it?

Sherman: I think Democrats have a variety of different plans that have only one thing in common, and that is leave sooner than George Bush. . . . I think that it’s hard to say that Democrats are unified on Iraq behind something very specific.

The military uses a term, AOS — All Options Stink. Withdrawing the troops precipitously with a timetable simply encourages our enemies to wait us out. Indeed, a week after the election, a front-page headline in The New York Times read: "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say" — a little too late to influence the election.

The Iraqi government, itself, wants us to stay until its military and police forces grow stronger. By withdrawing, leaving behind a weak, fragile Iraqi government, we betray the brave Iraqis who went to the polls and voted for democracy, as well as those who joined the military and the police to provide security for their fledgling government. We run the risk of betraying our allies the way we did in Vietnam with a resulting bloodbath, and leaving an oil-rich launching pad for terrorists to continue attacks against "apostate governments" in the Arab world, as well as against Europe and the United States.

Despite the sound Bush economy, historians will judge the Bush administration — as a success or a failure — based upon Iraq. Even with the new Democrat Congress, the president remains commander in chief for two more years. President Bush should ignore the polls, the cries for a "strategic redeployment," and the demand for a "summit" between the terror states of Syria and Iran.

If Bush, as he says, refuses to leave Iraq until it can defend itself and become a reliable ally on terror, then the war should be fought more, rather than less, aggressively. This might require, as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., proposes, sending more troops. One more thing. Notwithstanding the violence in Iraq, 61 percent of recently polled Iraqis say that whatever their hardships, getting rid of Saddam was the right thing to do.

The military says that, by providing terrorists and weapons, Syria and Iran work to destabilize Iraq. Perhaps it’s time we send them a message.