Even If Entering Iraq Was a Mistake, Leaving Is Worse

In arriving at their decision that America should withdraw its forces from Iraq, the Democratic Party and the Left around the world regularly make reference to what they regard as America’s initial error — invading Iraq.

Perhaps the Left is correct in its contentions that bringing freedom to a Muslim Arab country at this time in history is impossible and that an Iraq under Saddam Hussein would be better for American and world security.

But even if the war was a major blunder and even if everything the Left charges — including "Bush lied" — were true, none of these contentions has any bearing on the question of what should be done now.

The preoccupation of the Left with the alleged wrongness of the war and the alleged deceit of President Bush is another example of passion rather than reason determining a leftist position on a major issue.

A responsible, rational opponent of the war in Iraq and of George W. Bush would say, "I am appalled by the disastrous war in Iraq, appalled by the wasted American lives, appalled by the moral wasteland of Iraq, and I loathe this president. But we are in Iraq. And as much as I loathe supporting anything this president does and as much as I oppose this war, I know what is likely to happen if we leave Iraq. So I cannot in good conscience advocate an American withdrawal or fixing a specific date to do so."

In a recent column I argued that the Left rarely asks "What happens next?" when advocating social policy. I offered numerous examples. Withdrawal from Iraq and announcing that America has "lost the war" are the latest and most egregious.

If we leave Iraq:

It will be a great victory for the most dangerous ideology on earth today. The people running North Korea are presumably as evil as the Islamists. But there is no ideology emanating from North Korea that threatens mankind. We are fighting an ideology, supported by millions of people, that wishes to conquer the world and routinely engages in mass murder of the innocent — especially the innocent — to achieve its totalitarian goals.

No one will trust America’s commitment for the foreseeable future. Nations and forces aligned with America against freedom-hating enemies will conclude that it is actually quite easy to defeat the United States of America. Just kill relatively few of that country’s soldiers, and the U.S.A. will soon abandon you.

The very best Iraqis — and members of their families — will be slaughtered like animals.

It will mean the end of the possibility of the rise of a moderate form of Islam for the foreseeable future, perhaps generations. In the Arab/Muslim world, might is revered, and the victorious Islamists will therefore be revered. Moreover, they will have earned the right to claim that they constitute an unstoppable force. If America, the most powerful country in the world, surrenders to them because the Islamists murder fellow Muslims and killed the indescribably tragic but militarily small total of 3,000 soldiers in four years — one-one-hundredth the losses the U.S. experienced in World War II — who in the Muslim world will stand up to them?

Iraq will turn into a far more potent terror base than Afghanistan could ever be. One of the major powers of the Arab world, one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, may well be ruled by jihadists.

Moderate Arab regimes will likely be overthrown by a combination of an emboldened Iran and an Islamist Iraq that regards moderate Arabs and Muslims as loathsome as, if not more so than, Americans and Jews. It is almost inconceivable, for example, that the Jordanian monarchy would long survive an American defeat in Iraq.

The American military will suffer a crisis of morale that it will not soon overcome. Though defeated not by the Islamist enemy but by the American Left — most particularly the Democratic Party and the mainstream news media — it will be hard to convince many people to join or stay in the U.S. military. Why bother? Even if you do a great job, if you haven’t done it all — whatever ‘all’ means in a place like Iraq — you will be told that you lost the war.

And those who have heretofore murdered fellow Muslims will focus their attention on murdering us. The left dismisses the argument that it is far better to fight them in Iraq than in Europe and America. But the dismissal is simply irrational. The people we are fighting, including Osama bin Laden and all the variations on al Qaeda, know that the battle for Iraq is the battle for their future — that if they win in Iraq, they win all over the Middle East and beyond; that if they lose there, America and the West win.

But none of this matters to the Left because Democrats and others on the Left do not ask what will happen if America leaves Iraq. They are certain that the war was wrong, and that, in addition to handing George W. Bush and the Republicans a defeat, is what they seem to care about.