Feature

Iraq

A new argument for staying the course.

President Bush sure has changed his tune on Iraq, said David Sanger in The New York Times. For three years, the president and his aides preached that a free Iraq could be a bastion of democracy that would transform the entire Middle East. Now, with support for the war plummeting even among Republicans, Bush has cast the argument for staying in Iraq in more alarming terms. If our troops leave, Bush said in a series of speeches over the past week, it will lead to an even greater disaster. Bush portrayed Iraq as just one front in a larger conflict with Islamic extremists, whom he called 'œsuccessors to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century.' Letting Iraq dissolve into chaos, he said, would lead to more attacks on U.S. soil. In support of Bush's rhetorical offensive, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of the war to those who tried to 'œappease'' Hitler. And Vice President Dick Cheney advanced a new domino theory, warning that 'œif America fails in Iraq, Saudi Arabia will be the next target and then maybe Pakistan.'

Liberals may scoff, said Victor Davis Hanson in National Review Online, but the analogy to World War II is quite correct. The American public has been lulled into complacency by the past five years, in which terrorists have failed to attack U.S. targets. But al Qaida, Hezbollah, Iran's fanatical government, and the other forces of Islamic extremism mean what they say: They intend to wipe Israel off the map, and attack the American infidels 'œin their own homes.' If Iran gets the bomb, nuclear-armed Pakistan falls to that country's millions of fanatics, or terrorists get their hands on a nuke, future attacks could make Sept. 11 seem like a minor prelude. Though the enemy operates under many organizations and guises, said Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News, it has one goal in common: Defeating and humiliating the U.S. That's why al Qaida's leaders themselves say that Iraq is now the key battleground in radical Islam's challenge of the West. If we pull out of Iraq, it 'œwould strengthen terror groups anywhere.'

Give this administration an 'œF' in history, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune. 'œGlib parallels'' to the Nazis and World War II notwithstanding, 'œmilitant Islam is not one phenomenon but many.' Al Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran each have their own distinctive, often conflicting, ideologies and goals. And if this really were really World War III, as Bush insists, his administration would have 'œdrafted millions of men, raised taxes, and mobilized every resource' available to defeat the Islamists, instead of trying to fight them on the cheap and without sacrifice.

Andrew Bacevich

Los Angeles Times

John Carey

The Washington Times

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