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The Antiwar Left Endorses Defeat By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 06, 2005

JUST WHEN IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE ANTIWAR LEFT TO SINK ANY LOWER, KEY DEMOCRATIC LEADERS have told American troops they are terrorists – and they are too incompetent to win the war in Iraq. Yesterday, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean told WOAI radio in San Antonio the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.” Thus, the head of the nation’s largest political party, for partisan purposes, has gleefully thrown in the towel, accepted his nation’s military defeat, and chartered a course for national humiliation and perpetual insecurity.

Dean’s prayer for unilateral surrender comes one week after Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, said the Army is “broken”; two weeks after Murtha told CNN, “This war cannot be won militarily…cannot be won on the ground”; and 19 months after the Pennsylvania “hawk” declared the war “unwinnable,” adding, “We cannot prevail in this war.” In addition to being profoundly dispiriting, Dean’s comments imply America’s fighting men and women are no match for common street thugs like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.


Dean sounded the retreat (for Americans, anyway) as another of his party’s most visible leaders implicitly compared our GIs in Iraq to terrorists. On Sunday, 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told CBS’s “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer, “there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the – of – of – of – historical customs, religious customs.” (The silver-tongued Kerry promptly added Americans shouldn’t terrorize Iraqis – “Iraqis should be doing that.”) He also called American troops imperialists, “the inheritors of the legacy of both the British and the French.”


In his best Orwellian turn-of-phrase since “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” Kerry declaimed: “What I’m proposing is a strategy for success, and I think it begins with withdrawal.”


And here is where the messages of Kerry, Dean, Murtha, Pelosi, Kucinich, and the bulk of the Antiwar Left coincide: their desire to secure failure at all costs. Dean said yesterday the Democrats are “coalescing” around a plan: “Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately,” then withdraw all troops from Iraq within two years. “We need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We’ve got to get the target off the backs of American troops.


This position resembles Murtha’s plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq within six months, moving some troops into “safe” neighboring countries – a plan Murtha himself voted against when given the opportunity.


Murtha’s cut-and-run policy picked up steam when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi backed the measure, adding, “I believe that a majority of our caucus clearly supports Mr. Murtha.[1] The dominant media treated the endorsement as a surprise, although Pelosi arranged for Murtha to “make his case in private to the party conference” before he struck his courageous, independent course. Indeed, Murtha is behind some of his colleagues. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-CA, introduced an immediate withdrawal plan a year ago. 


Even the once-pseudo-hawkish Hillary Clinton has endorsed a variant of the Murtha plan. In her November 29 “Letter to Constituents on Iraq Policy,” Hillary told voters in the Empire State:


we are at a critical point with the Dec. 15 elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year, while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities. I call on the president both for such a plan and for a full and honest accounting of the failures of intelligence. 


In another venue, she added, “it is past time for the president, vice president or anyone else associated with them to stop impugning the patriotism of their critics,” although no one in the Bush administration can mention the name “Murtha” without the attendant descriptive, “patriot.”


All these left-wing “solutions” share the assumption that the best way to “fight Zarqawi” is to drastically reduce the number of troops fighting him, abandon 27 million Iraqis to his mercy, allow him to use a struggling democracy as a base of operations, and hand him a propaganda coup as al-Qaeda appears to force the Great Satan into retreating from another Third World nation. The leftists tell us we don’t have enough troops on the ground, and that the answer is to reduce their numbers yet further. They claim Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror, and that all Middle Eastern terrorists are there. They seem to believe these terrorists have no way to get from Iraq to “safe” countries in the region – like Jordan, Turkey, and Israel – and once expelled, they will never return to Iraq; hence, GIs should establish no permanent military base in this terrorist haven, located on the border of a genocidal state sponsor of terrorism that is also a burgeoning potential nuclear power.


Withdrawing from Iraq won’t “get the target off the backs of American troops,” because our “occupation” did not make Iraq terror-friendly. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Osama’s right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri visited Iraq in 1999, when Saddam ran Iraq and you-know-who’s husband ran the United States.


And make no mistake, there has been real progress in restricting the portion of Iraq open to the “insurgents.” (See this report by the Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips for details.) To abandon all these accomplishments would mean the 2,000 U.S. soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice would have died in vain.


Why should those determined to bring about this unnecessary setback be above criticism? What is one to make of a political movement whose plan seems hell-bent on seeing terrorists triumph over their fellow countrymen?


Pre-emptive surrender has been the Left’s default foreign policy for 30 years. Murtha stated he was inspired by the example of former Speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill in the fall of 1967, when Tip declared the Vietnam Conflict lost. After the Tet Offensive (a military push the North Vietnamese lost), Walter Cronkite and the Left surrendered on behalf of the American people. Their policy of undercutting the South Vietnamese led to the slaughter of four million Indochinese.


The Left continued this process in each of America’s succeeding conflicts (except the nation-building humanitarian projects it initiated). When President Reagan kicked the Marxists out of Grenada, Rep. Pete Stark – a co-sponsor of Lynn Woolsey’s Iraqi withdrawal plan  – said, “We are rapidly headed down the road not to one Vietnam, but possibly two or three, and maybe even World War III. Let us stop the president before it is too late.” Jesse Jackson suggested we make “reparations to the Grenadian people for damages caused by this invasion.” Congressmen John Conyers and Henry B. Gonzalez introduced articles of impeachment. (Gonzalez later tried to impeach George H.W. Bush, before stonewalling investigations into Bill Clinton’s impropriety in the early ‘90s.) [2] On the eve of Operation Desert Storm, the Left hysterically predicted thousands of American casualties. Charles Krauthammer pointed out the Left deemed Afghanistan a “quagmire” in the second week of fighting. The left wing of the Democratic Party has predicted ten of the last zero American military defeats. [3]


Now the Left has forged a plan that will allow the terrorists to regroup while leaving scattered pockets of American troops throughout terror-targeted Middle Eastern nations – all in the hopes the American people will blame the predictable results on President Bush. Dean, Kerry, and Murtha’s cynical and deadly partisanship has made them the enemy of our soldiers, our country, our allies in the Arab world, and our national security.



1. Congressional Democrats rewarded Murtha with a standing ovation on the House floor. The Washington Post also notes, “Over Thanksgiving week, Murtha received a standing ovation in a Dallas Starbucks.”

2. Charen, Mona. Useful Idiots: How the Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First. (New York: Perennial Books, 2003), pp. 190-193. Charen’s underappreciated book is absolutely indispensable.

3. To wit: Vietnam, Lebanon, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, the Cold War, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iraq again. N.B.: The North Vietnamese Army did not and could not defeat the United States militarily.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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