It's Not a Quagmire, It's a Muddle

This is a time for giving thanks, and among the many things for which I am thankful is the fact that I am not George W. Bush.

Think about it — in the sixth year of his presidency he is besieged on all sides, not only by his foes, but by his friends and supporters as well.

On the one side are those demanding that the president adopt some kind of face-saving solution that will allow him to withdraw from Iraq without admitting the United States has lost yet another war — the solution once recommended by former Vermont Sen. George Aiken, who advised that we declare victory in Vietnam and get out.

Among those advocating this kind of sleight of hand are members of George Herbert Walker Bush’s administration, perhaps even former Secretary of State James Baker. Baker co-chairs the widely touted Iraq Study Group, which has leaked its recommendations for coping with the war by calling for negotiations with Syria and Iran.

On the other side are the hawks who want not only to remain in Iraq, but have advanced the rather peculiar idea that the ultimate aim in any conflict is to win it. They insist that anything less than total victory over the insurgency would result in unthinkable consequences for the United States, the Middle East and the West.

In the middle are the great masses of American people who told exit pollsters they weren’t against the war, only against how it was being conducted.

Then there is the Congress of the United States, fated to fall into the hands of the liberal-controlled Democratic Party whose leadership is deeply enamored of the idea of cutting and running — a concept they disguise by calling the pullout of the U.S. from Iraq “redeployment.”

To complicate matters, however, powerful Democrats such as Hillary Clinton more or less support the idea of remaining in Iraq until the Iraqi forces can handle the insurgency on their own.

The president’s dilemma arises from his conviction that a pullout before Iraq has been enabled to fight their war on the insurgency would lead to a conflagration that would engulf the entire Middle East, disrupt the supply of the oil that keeps our economic engine running, create a national base for the Jihad that would enable the radical Islamic movement (probably armed with nukes to bring the Jihad to our shores), and eventually drive the West out of the entire area.

Yet the pressure on the president to find a solution that will allow us to leave Iraq, even if it’s with our tail between our legs, is growing more and more intense.

Added to the dilemma is the president’s knowledge that negotiations with Syria and Iraq can have only one result — withdrawal disguised as recognition that Iraq is a regional problem meant to be solved by regional interests — in this case, Iran.

The president knows full well that the only negotiating point is surrender to Iran, whose 1979 constitution declares the aim of the Jihad is world conquest by the Islamic revolution which it leads. To Iran, Iraq is the high ground they seek to take in their war against the West.

Should the president continue to stress his role as Commander in Chief, he will find himself facing an obstructive Congress that will use every device available to them, perhaps even to the extent of withdrawing funding for the military.

Given the facts of the matter, should the president cave in to the peace-at-any-price crowd the deaths of almost 3,000 American fighting men and women — and the billions of dollars it has cost — will have been shamefully wasted.

On the other hand, should he stick to his guns, he will find himself the most embattled President since Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln couldn’t find generals who could go out and win the War between the States, had to deal with an obstructive Congress and its Committee on the Conduct of the War, and even fought dissent by members of his own cabinet, one of whom referred to Lincoln as “the original ape.”

That’s why I’m thankful that I’m not George W. Bush.