Just recently, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, the Rev. Ayman Zawahiri, appeared in an online 67-minute video and declared that the Democrats' bill calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq is proof that the United States has already lost the war in Iraq. I wonder how the Democratic leadership took the news. Did the Hon. Nancy Pelosi send him an e-mail congratulating him on his astuteness? Or was she a bit embarrassed? Yet, can anything embarrass Speaker Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership? Frankly I doubt it. They are all neatly shut off from the world in their fantasy of moral and intellectual superiority.
Of course, the Rev. Zawahiri is shut off in his own fantasy world. Does he actually think the United States has been defeated in Iraq? Anywhere our army goes it destroys our enemies. All they can do is blow themselves up. Zawahiri apparently deems it a victory if one of his lunkheads blows himself up close enough to an American unit to take an American casualty. Oh, I suppose he imagines other glorious victories, for instance, a lunkhead blowing up a market and killing scores of Iraqis, or a hospital, or a mosque. These calamities are not what are usually described as victories.
Apparently Al Qaeda franchises its name to terrorists in other countries. Thus there is "Al-Qaeda in Iraq." Now it is time for the Democrats to franchise their name abroad. As neatly as Zawahiri's statement comports with the views of such Democrats as Senator Harry Reid, who said last month that the war in Iraq is "lost," perhaps the Democrats will soon franchise their name to like-minded groups abroad. Perhaps they will make the Rev. Zawahiri the head of "Democrats in the Caves of Wajiristan." Maybe the Democrats and Al Qaeda can exchange greetings, Senator Harry Reid in an online video repeating to the cave dwellers in Wajiristan his message of last month, "this war is lost," and the Rev. Zawahiri repeating his message of this month that our war is "lost."
But there are differences in the two groups' views on the Iraq war. The Democrats want us to get out, the sooner the better. Zawahiri is not so brash. In his message over the weekend he declared, "We ask Allah that they [the American and other coalition forces] get out after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed." That means he wants our forces to remain in Iraq until 2207 and possibly 2307. Even President George W. Bush would not go that far. And Zawahiri believes that the casualties he envisages would constitute a dreadful "lesson," giving "the blood spillers in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson." That is how he put it over the weekend. What does he have against "blood spillers"? His dirty-necked galoots are wanton blood spillers. Frankly, I find the Rev. Zawahiri even more incoherent than Senator Reid.
Pronouncing the American endeavor "lost" in Iraq is probably a good idea for those who hate America, but I do not think it is a very good idea for the Democrats. They did the very same thing towards the end of our military engagement in Vietnam, and that led to a decade of setbacks for American interests around the globe. It also led to some dreadful setbacks for the Democrats. In fact, with the exception of Bill Clinton's two elections and the recent mid-term elections, it has mostly been downhill for the Democrats since they bugged out on Vietnam and solemnized that war a "loss."
The war itself was not a military loss, though we certainly suffered a diplomatic defeat in Vietnam. Our military won every large engagement and most small ones. Our losses were in the range of 50,000, but the Communist Vietnamese lost two and a half million, some 900,000 in combat. For two years after we evacuated the country the South Vietnamese army held its own. What led to its defeat was a massive Communist assault that went unopposed by American airpower when the Democrats in Congress pulled a Harry Reid and refused to support the use of airpower or even to resupply the South Vietnamese.
Now we see the Democrats reenacting their Vietnam bugout in Iraq. They cannot give us a military defeat there. Our army is too powerful. Yet they can give us another diplomatic defeat. If they do, my prediction is years of electoral defeats for the Democrats. As to a decade of setbacks for American interests abroad, that is a matter too terrible to contemplate.
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun, and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. His The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President's Life After the White House has just been published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
To read Frontpagemag.com's recent interview with R. Emmett Tyrrell, click here.