Dick Cheney said it: The congressional Democrats’ plan for Iraq would "validate the Al Qaeda strategy."
Nancy Pelosi protested. She phoned President Bush, but was reportedly unable to reach him.
"You cannot say as the president of the United States, ‘I welcome disagreement in a time of war,’ and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country," said Pelosi.
But Cheney is right. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple common sense.
"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman (John) Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the Al Qaeda strategy. The Al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people … try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit."
How can anyone argue that is exactly the effect of a premature pullout from Iraq?
You can argue we never should have gone.
You can argue we fought ineffectively, with too many restrictions on our troops and rules of engagement.
You can argue that we’re not getting any good intelligence from prisoners since Abu Ghraib and the new rules against coercive interrogations.
You can argue that we don’t have enough troops.
But you can’t argue that even the debate about leaving soon gives aid and comfort to the enemy. It would be nice if it were not so, but wishing and hoping won’t change reality.
When this war reached its second stage — after the fall of Saddam — Al Qaeda sent thousands of terrorists to Iraq to ensure the Americans would have no easy time of it during the occupation. President Bush openly welcomed this prospect — bringing the terrorists from all over the world to fight on the battlefield of our choosing.
This is what we have been witnessing for the last two years in Iraq. Al Qaeda blows up a Shiite mosque. The Shiites take revenge on the Sunnis. The Sunnis take more revenge on the Shiites. But it all starts with Al Qaeda’s calculated efforts.
Al Qaeda is loving the great debate taking place in Washington.
This is what it was banking on when it bet so heavily on the Iraq battlefield. It was counting on Americans being unwilling to accept a long, drawn-out foreign war. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri studied Vietnam. They know better what happened there than many members of Congress do.
They understand American troops don’t lose wars, but American politicians do. They were counting on a replay of Vietnam in Iraq and they are getting it.
Pelosi, bless her soul, is suggesting that it is unacceptable to look at this conflict from the point of view of the enemy. That is always a mistake. It is one of the fundamental mistakes of Vietnam, and she is trying hard to repeat it.
"I’m going to call the president and tell him I disapprove of what the vice president said," Pelosi said. "It has no place in our debate."
What has no place in our debate? Looking at our proposed moves in Iraq through the eyes of the enemy — something absolutely essential in warfare?
What happens in Iraq has consequences — not just for that country of 25 million Arabs, but for the entire region of the Middle East and for our own national security.
Al Qaeda chose to make Iraq the mother of all battles. We accepted the challenge. There is no backing down now for us. If we do, we are inviting horrors that most Americans cannot even imagine.
If we back down now, we will be telling the whole world, including the Islamic world where bin Laden has extraordinary support already, that he won and we lost. We will be telling the world that Osama kicked our butts. We will be telling the world that we got bloody in Iraq and had enough.
That will be the biggest public relations boost the jihadists got since 9/11.