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Say no to anti-war

This past week General Petraeus, commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, presented his report to Congress on the status of the Iraq war. It was everything people expected and feared it would be: candid, open, rational and completely sincere.

Hence many feared what our military’s top official in Iraq might say because his reputation is too genuine and honorable to be pushed aside by those interested in forcing a defeat in Iraq. Make no mistake – a sizeable and growing percentage of our nation’s leaders are interested in doing nothing less.

When he went before Congress, it was not a rosy picture being painted, but a rational, realistic one that made evident the day-to-day experience in Iraq by Petraeus. Never once did he indicate that Iraq was a peaceful place, nor did he praise the Iraqi leaders on political progress yet to be realized. Furthermore, he did not indicate Iraq was won or even near to being won.

Instead he told the truth. He told of the victories coalition forces have had against the insurgency and the reduction in violence in some of the most deadly regions of the country.

He explained his wish that the leaders of Iraq could find some sort of commonality that would enable them to calm their country, and announced that he believed American forces could begin a gradual withdrawal this year. He also told us that Iraq was militarily winnable.

For his complete honesty and deep sincerity before Congress, something exceedingly rare in Washington, one might expect he would have been treated with the decency and civility he has earned throughout his service.

Instead he was lampooned, his reputation called into question by numerous political groups apparently fed up with honesty. And when before Congress, the General was talked down to and ridiculed by officials who have spent a hundredth of his time in Iraq, his opinion made to be worthless by those desperate to end this war before it becomes too readily apparent that it can yet be won.

That is why General Petraeus had to be made a complete fool of. How could the continued calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq carry any weight if Petraeus, the president and numerous third party, independent study groups are all saying that Iraq can be won? Why is it exactly that so many in Congress are so willing to dedicate themselves to defeat?

The answer is so disheartening it is enough to make anybody pause and consider the future of their country: politics.

Democrats stand to gain immensely from a defeat in Iraq. After years of lambasting military and administration policy in Iraq, a defeat there would be the final “I told you so,” and would be certain to leave the Democrats with a commanding majority in Congress and a president in the White House.

If the situation on the ground will not provide the Democrats with the damning evidence they seek, they have shown an unbelievable willingness to go to great lengths to manufacture a defeat in Iraq. Sadly, Republicans have also signed on to this notion, worrying more about their own reelection than the security and health of the nation.

The problem lies in the fact that the Democrats have become beholden to an anti-war that is increasingly radical in its demands. To them Iraq is an opportunity in disguise, a chance to show the nation the horrors of war and convince us of the inherent evil of conflict and violence.

All of this to be learned while Americans sit comfortably removed from the situation, watching and learning only what CBS, NBC or CNN are willing to broadcast. The anti-war groups no longer oppose this war, but any war. Conflict and violence should, according them, no longer even be considered a last resort.

Wish as we might, the world is simply not a place where all our problems can be solved through communication and diplomacy alone. The reason is simple: Every nation does not want to cooperate. And when those uncooperative nations are the ones that are developing nuclear weapons or committing genocides the threat of war is all too often the only thing forcing them to the negotiating table.

But that threat has no value whatsoever if the entire world knows our nation is governed by a political group hell-bent on never again fighting a war. We cannot be seen as weak or undetermined, and we cannot afford for the world to take our nation’s threats of conflict as anything less than genuine, or we are inviting devastating consequences upon ourselves. Iraq is therefore more than a battle against insurgents or a front in the war on terrorism; it is a test of our resolve and determination, and the whole world is watching.

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