Score a big W for W. No question about it. Last week’s Senate vote confirmed it. The bill will authorize the President to spend nearly $95 billion paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30. In addition to jettisoning their plan for a troop withdrawal timeline, the A.P.’s David Espo reported “Democrats abandoned attempts to require the Pentagon to adhere to troop training, readiness and rest requirements unless Bush waived them.”
So here is a besieged President, attacked from all sides, with popularity ratings extremely low, with potential political fires and scandals always at the wings of his stage, with a minority in both houses of Congress, and yet he ups and gets exactly what he wants and asks for.
Incredible, really. After all the saber rattling, speeches to the press, junkets to the enemy designed to embarrass Bush, and other stances of an “absolute” nature, the Democrats caved completely by lop-sided votes of 280-142 in the House and 80-14 in the Senate. Nor did they view their defeat as a sign of the times, but rather sneered off into the night vowing repeated attempts to challenge President Bush on the war because they feel it is the will of the people to end the conflict with or without honor.
Now the President and the American people can breathe a sigh of relief not because war is good, to be utilized as some kind of Roman killing sport in which we indulge, but rather because it is so necessary to the region that democracy of some type flourish in Iraq.
Radical Islam, in its many forms, has declared America the enemy, and they want us out. They wish to utilize the mid-East as their home base for world control and world terror. They preach of justice but practice intolerance, and they are brutal. We cannot simply be kind to them and have them stop their murderous ways. They want us dead. Frankly they also seem to want themselves dead. And maybe that is how this all shall end. They are the true negativists. That is why we must see this fight through, no matter how long the battle, how hard the war.
We have now lost close to 3500 military lives in the five years of war in Iraq. That averages to 700 deaths per year. To all and any who have died there can be no words said that properly acknowledge their sacrifice. Yet, 700 lives per year sacrificed to bring an end to the insurgency and settle a relative peace in Iraq, without the threat of al-Qaeda and other radical groups seems a cost we must at least analyze closely.
Is our struggle with the Iraqis worth 700 lives per year? If it saves millions of lives in the process, then the answer must be yes. If there is no terror that would not simply disappear if we left the area now, then no, the 700 a year are not definitely worth it at all.
The fact is that regardless of anyone’s desire to wind down the conflicts, it would be idiocy of the worst kind to leave the military stranded and without adequate funds to fight, especially in the metaphoric middle of the battle. The clock, no doubt, is running in some form and W would be wise to enjoy this W quickly because the next round of attacks are even now being planned.
Simply demanding an end to the war, however, is by no means enough. If the Democratic majority wishes to convince us that it is safe to leave Iraq and Afghanistan any time in the near future, then they need to show us a plan for what we do after we abandon the mid-East to terrorists and leave Israel to deal on her own.
All this talk now about the Iraqis having to live up to certain standards and hurrying to get the job of peace done sounds wonderful, but it will be hard to see who will be the judge to determine if the Iraqis have met certain bench marks or have not.
As the 19th Century Persian poet Omar Khayyam explained in his “Rubaiyat,” “I’ll take the cash and let the credit go,” so George Bush will take this funding and put it to use while worrying about Iraqi governmental progress later. The enemy is on the field and for now at least our troops can continue to adequately engage it.