The Therapy Sessions
Friday, October 31, 2003
A Disturbing American Poll
The aspect of this poll that I find most disturbing is that 32% of respondents would leave Iraq immediately.
They would abandon our friends in Iraq: the tens of thousands of police we’ve trained, the town councils we’ve help establish, the governing council that we put in place, and the 70% of Iraqis who wish us to stay.
They would leave their fate to Al Qaeda, and all the other "foreign fighters" who have streamed into Iraq in the past six months with dreams of killing Americans. The mass graves in Iraq would begin filling again, the presses would be shut down and America’s reputation would be stained by failure and dishonor.
The Arab world – which in 20 years will include 4-5 nuclear-armed states – would see our shameful departure as evidence that democracy is fraud, and its pent-up anger would be turned toward the US, with the expectation that America would surrender further in the future. This is a very dangerous misconception for them to have.
The events that will transpire will make 9/11 look trivial. We are talking about incinerated American cities, and a nuclear response that will leave perhaps tens of millions of Arabs dead.
If we don’t change the current Arab mindset (and only freedom of information, democracy and capitalism can do this), I am not exaggerating when I say that there will be genocide. And for every American killed, there will hundreds of Arab dead.
Now I understand that this war is tough (and it will probably get tougher). Every morning I wake up and my first thoughts are with the soldiers in Iraq (every death fills me with profound sadness), and the last thing I check before I go to sleep is whether any more of our young soldiers have been killed. Iraqi police and civilians are being killed too. And they are being killed because they are working with us (the terrorists aren't winning any popularity contests in Iraq right now).
I wake up late at night wondering what is going on over there (I am writing this at 3:00 am), and I wish to God that we could just make the region understand just what is at stake here, and the true evil of the men we fight. The people we are fighting are the people we need to fight, and they know, more than most Americans do, that the war they are fighting in Iraq is important.
Bush has been poor at communicating the importance of the struggle. We need Churchill, but Bush is all we have. The message he needs to get across is this: our soldiers are not dying in vain, and we will not leave the field like we did in Vietnam. Our people need to hear it, our soldiers need to hear it, and the enemy needs to hear it.
The Iraqis - especially -need to know that we will not abandon them. The Democrats are falling over themselves to tell the world that this exactly what we will do.
Vietnam was a war that was lost on the ground in a part of the world that was not very relevant to US interests.
Iraq is the most important war we have fought since Korea.
If we “win” in Iraq and establish a stable, prosperous and democratic Iraq (a huge - perhaps impossible - undertaking), the Iraqis win. The Arab world will undergo a transformation. Baghdad is a vital Arab capital, and it (now) has the Arab world’s freest press.
To abandon Iraq to these larval tyrants would be a mark of shame that would haunt the US for decades. It would be a green light to our enemies that yes, we can be cowed by terror, and perhaps Allah is on their side in the battle against America.
Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia (the world’s biggest sponsors of terrorism (after Iraq and Afghanistan have been eliminated)) all realize what effect a free Iraq will have on their own restive populations. Al Qaeda realizes that the greatest threat to its long term viability is secular democracy. Their defeat in Iraq will cause their world to undergo change, and change is what dictators fear the most.
To fail in Iraq would hand terrorists the biggest victory they have ever achieved. It is the perceived inevitability of their victory over the West that energizes their foot soldiers. The result would be more terrorism, and more dangerous terrorism.
What would make it very painful is the war is now ours to lose, and it is being lost not on battlefield but on the home front. Large numbers of Americans simply don’t realize that the world changed dramatically on 9/11. There is no going back to 1998, a time when we didn’t have to worry about these things.
I hope these 32% of people will reconsider this war and realize that this is not Bush’s war, but America’s war (a war declared in an overwhelming congressional vote).
We have no choice but to win it.