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It's a Plan By: Frank J Gaffney Jr.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, January 15, 2007

President Bush’s address to the nation Wednesday night about “the way forward” on Iraq involved doing perhaps the hardest thing any politician ever has to do: telling voters, legislators and the press what they don’t want to hear.  He offered his plan with conviction, authority and determination, laying out a comprehensive and serious strategy, rejecting bad advice he has been receiving of late and making clear the stakes of failure.  He deserves our support.

Mr. Bush acknowledged the indisputable.  Things have not worked out as we had hoped, creating conditions in which “clearing and holding” was necessary but impossible to perform adequately in Baghdad and Anbar province.  He took responsibility for mistakes that left too few forces, both U.S. and Iraqi, to execute effective and sustained counterinsurgency operations.  He recognized the role played by determined adversaries bent on fomenting ethnic and sectarian strife and the intolerable safe-havens from which they had been allowed to conduct their bloodletting, with the acquiescence – if not the active support – of the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Most importantly, though, the president addressed a reality his many critics generally ignore:  Iraq is but one front in a global war against a totalitarian ideology, Islamofacism, that is determined to destroy us.  He emphasized the risks for the outcome of that wider war were we now, in the face of such violence, to abandon the people we helped liberate.  As he put it:

Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

Speaking of Iran, Mr. Bush’s attitude towards the Islamic Republic was particularly noteworthy – and laudable.  Far from embracing the appeasement strategy offered up by Jim Baker and the Iraq Surrender Group late last year, the president made it clear that American diplomacy would not reward the Iranians and its Syrian puppets for their murderous attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces and Iraqis.

To the contrary, President Bush served notice on the two governments and their friends in Iraq (many of whom are in the Maliki government):

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

Reports out of Iraq overnight indicate that the U.S. military has begun implementing this policy by seizing Iranian officials in the Kurdish northern city of Irbil.  Tehran routinely uses diplomatic facilities, pouches and immunity to mount and otherwise facilitate terrorist acts.

Mr. Bush did not go the next step, which is to announce explicitly that henceforth we will not afford our enemies sanctuary across the Iraqi borders in Iran and Syria, any more than we will inside Iraq.  The good news is that the Treasury Department is already applying intensified pressure on the mullahs in Tehran (and their proxies in Damascus) by discouraging foreign banks and governments from extending financing to the Iranian regime.  The logic of the President’s remarks dictate that we must go further and execute a comprehensive strategy for regime change in Iran and Syria.

As to the rest of the president’s plan, its military, political, economic and diplomatic components seem generally sensible.  If given a chance – meaning that the president’s opponents stop trying to capitalize on public weariness with the war and suspend their defeatism – it may provide the “breathing space” the Iraqis need to secure their country and consolidate its liberation. 

No sooner had the president finished addressing the nation, however, than the carping began with an address by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin who asserted that the new Bush plan is “not what the American people voted for” last November. In fact, they voted for change; they did not vote for surrender.

Mr. Bush had it exactly right last night when, after underscoring how high the stakes are in this War for the Free World, he declared: “Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.”

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Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.

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