Monday, January 29, 2007

The Long War is a Total War

One of the implicit assumptions of those who oppose the war in Iraq is that it is separate and insulated from the war on terror. By this reasoning, we can retreat from Iraq and not feel any effect from that withdrawal.

This assumption of the war opponents is all wrong. Since 9/11, we have been waging a war against Islamo-fascists that is a total war. There can be no splitting of differences--we take Iraq and they get Spain (or even vice versa). No, only one side can win. Either our system prevails or theirs does.

Remember that Iraq supported terrorists under Saddam. We don't even need to settle the al Qaeda-Iraq link controversy to say that.

Remember that the jihadis embraced Iraq as a front to wage their war against us, both to help Saddam and even after Saddam was deposed. The jihadis flocked to Iraq prior to the 2003 war to fight us as auxiliaries to the Baathist regime, and since then have essentially invaded Iraq with the help of Syria and Iran in order to kill even more in their own campaign.

So before we liberated Iraq, jihadis wanted to kill us. While we are in Iraq the terrorists want to kill us. And if we flee Iraq without making sure the Iraqi government can defeat these terrorists without most of our troops but with our help, the jihadis will call it a victory and continue to look for places to kill us, aided by the regimes of Syria and Iran.

Where might that be, you may ask? Well, like on 9/11, they'll hit us at home. Or, as in 1998 when the hit our embassies in East Africa, they'll hit us abroad (and there are other examples). But they will come after us like they came after us before.

As Iraq demonstrated in 1980 when they invaded Iran (I wrote this bit in 1997), withdrawing in the face of fanatical killers who will follow you wherever you go pretty much means the war is a question of victory or death:

Not wanting to repeat our experience in Vietnam, many speak of needing an "exit strategy" before committing troops. Such an approach seeks to minimize our losses under the assumption that we will at some point lose, so we had better know when to cut our losses and get out. It also assumes that the situation allows for an exit and that our enemy will allow it. The Iraqis desperately wanted out of the war they initiated in 1980 but were locked in by Iran in a death grip that allowed for no easy exit. While planning for a tough, resilient enemy is prudent, we must never become paralyzed by concentrating on how that enemy can hurt us. We need to keep our focus on achieving victory.

We are in a death grip with the jihadis. We cannot withdraw from the Iraq War shy of victory without giving our enemies in the broader war a victory. Defeat in Iraq will not be contained within Iraq whether we lose or our enemies lose. The Iraq campaign is part of the Long War whether you like it our not.

So focus on victory. This really is a Long War. And it is a total war against the jihadis and the support systems that raise killers and send them forth to slaughter innocents.

Let's get on with killing the enemy wherever we find them.

Because we won't come back 'til it's over over there.