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Visions of Defeat By: Mona Charen
The Washington Times | Friday, November 24, 2006


America is the world's hyperpower. No other nation or group of nations can challenge us militarily or economically. Unlike sickly Europe, we are growing, not contracting. But we are about to be defeated in Iraq by a few thousand cutthroats.

How did this happen? It's simple: The only thing powerful enough to defeat us is ourselves, and we've done it.

In my last column I argued the 2006 election was lost by Republicans through a combination of corruption and complacency. Dissatisfaction with the progress of the war in Iraq didn't help (though I don't believe it was decisive).

The Democrats however, do believe the election victory was attributable to the war in Iraq and are now rushing to concretize that perception. Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha, chief spokesman for the "runaway" faction of the Democratic Party, dueled unsuccessfully with Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for the majority leader post. Mr. Murtha's office released a statement reminding Democrats that "The record is clear: Jack Murtha has been a constant voice for change in Iraq and Steny Hoyer has not." The writing is not just on the wall, it's on the floors, ceilings, tables and chairs -- we seem about to give up.

The president's people continue to insist he will settle for nothing less than victory in Iraq. But look at the Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton Commission), from whom the president so looks forward to hearing recommendations. As the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin notes, the commission has claimed to be taking a fresh look but has already stacked its four subordinate expert working groups with committed opponents of the war.

Mr. Rubin writes: "Raad Alkadiri, for example, has repeatedly defined U.S. motivation for Iraq's liberation as a grab for oil. Raymond Close, listed on the Iraq Study Group's Web site as a 'freelance analyst,' is actually a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which, in July 2003, called for Vice President Dick Cheney's resignation for an alleged conspiracy to distort intelligence, which they said had been uncovered by none other than Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The following summer, Close posited that 'Bush and the neocons' had fabricated the charge 'that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency.' To Close, the problem was not Iranian training and supply of money and sophisticated explosives to terrorists, but rather neoconservatism."

The rumors about the commission's report, due next month, suggest co-chairs James Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton will recommend a "grand bargain" among the warring factions in Iraq and enlist cooperation of Iraq's neighbors in pacifying the country.

Iraq's neighbors? Iran and Syria? The nations bankrolling and supplying the internecine violence? The nations that are the world's top sponsors of terror? Iran: the nation that boasts of its genocidal ambitions toward Israel and the United States even as it races -- against the express wishes of the entire civilized world -- to obtain nuclear weapons? The nations that have the most to gain from our failure?

Why hasn't this approach been tried before? When we were having trouble in Bosnia, why didn't we ask for help from neighborly Serbia? When we were trying to help El Salvador democratize, why didn't we ask for help from the Sandinistas? When John F. Kennedy was having trouble with Cuba, why didn't he ask for help from the Soviet Union?

The only alternative to the surrenders on offer by the Democrats and by the "realist" Republicans is a renewed determination to win. The assassins in Iraq pursue their dirty war despite the cost because it is succeeding. They know they are on the cusp of driving us out. But if, just to fantasize for a moment, we were to redouble our efforts, send more troops, kill the insurgents and convey our unflinching determination to win, the psychological effect would be enormous. And all wars are, to one degree or another, psychological.

A few months ago, the Weekly Standard magazine asked, "Will We Choose to Win in Iraq?" Tragically, I think we have our answer.

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Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist and former speechwriter for Nancy Reagan.


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