The Democrats’ Withdrawal Conundrum

June 19, 2006

The only thing more pathetic than the Democrats’ floundering disunity on the war is their timing. They have renewed their demands for a precipitous withdrawal in Iraq at a time when even they would be hard pressed to deny that the momentum has changed against the terrorists.

Don’t get me wrong. I think we have been winning all along in Iraq, despite the wall-to-wall negative coverage. But recent developments must surely give the naysayers pause as well.

The death of Iraq terrorist chieftain Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a watershed event. That we were able to find this elusive leader in the Iraqi haystack was a remarkable achievement and one that signaled the fruits of a sustained intelligence effort. The event itself was monumental in that the primary leader of our enemy in Iraq was eliminated.

But perhaps the most significant aspect of the event is that it led to a bonanza of intelligence discoveries that both shed light on the enemy’s mindset and provided information that allowed us to conduct further highly productive raids. Yet despite these developments, defeatist Democrats see only gloom and doom.

American bombs killed al-Zarqawi on June 7. As of a week later, American and Iraqi forces had conducted 452 raids, killing 104 insurgents, capturing 759 “anti-Iraqi elements” and discovering 28 “significant” arms caches. Iraqi forces carried out 143 of the raids and joined with American forces on 255 others.

Our forces found revealing documents in al-Zarqawi’s hideout, including one that appeared to express al-Zarqawi’s opinion that the insurgents were losing the war and steadily weakening.

The document was a validation of the president’s war plan from the very beginning. Remember when he said we would fight the terrorists on multiple fronts, including diplomatic, financial, intelligence and military? Well, the document said the National Guard had succeeded in forming an enormous shield protecting American forces and substantially reducing their losses. It said the insurgency was being damaged by our military’s program to train Iraqi security forces, our massive arrests and seizures of weapons, our tightening of their financial outlets and our creating of divisions among their ranks. In desperation, Zarqawi confessed that the terrorists’ only hope to regain the upper hand and reverse “this crisis” was “to involve the U.S. forces in waging a war against another country or any hostile groups.”

Zarqawi thus acknowledged that his side is losing the war. Just think if during the Cold War we had discovered secret Soviet communiques revealing that Khrushchev was just kidding when he said to the United States, “We will bury you.” But leave it to prominent Democrats like John Murtha and John Kerry to offer the beleaguered and now dead Zarqawi another out: withdrawal of American troops. It’s as if they’re saying to Zarqawi’s ghost, “Don’t worry, Abu Musab, we’ll take care of this for you. There is another way. We can surrender.”

On “Meet the Press,” Murtha, after saying that Bill Clinton made a correct decision to “change direction” when he had actually cut and run in Somalia, said (referring to Iraq), “There comes a time when you have to say to yourself, ‘OK, we’ve done everything we could do, we can’t win this militarily.'” Zarqawi must be rolling over in his grave — with posthumous joy.

Last November, when cut-and-run Democrats were making similar noises, Republicans called their bluff and scheduled a surprise vote on Murtha’s motion to withdraw our troops. Caught with their pants down, Democrats folded. So long as there was no way to hold them accountable for their irresponsible demands for withdrawal, they would carp to their heart’s content. But when Republicans forced a vote, only three Democrats voted to withdraw, and the measure went down in flaming defeat, 403 to 3.

Fast forward back to the present, and we see history repeating itself with Republican congressmen, once again, challenging Democrats to put their money where their mouths are. Senate Republicans forced a vote on Sen. Kerry’s withdrawal resolution, which was defeated 93 to 6. Now we see why Kerry has been so afraid to come out of the closet as an unambiguous antiwar advocate. Heretofore he has been simultaneously an ambiguous antiwar advocate and an ambiguous supporter of the war, having refined fence-straddling into a sophisticated, nuanced art form.

House Democrats were a little bolder, which you might expect, given the ongoing disconnect between their policies and reality. One hundred and fifty out of 192 Democrats refused to approve a resolution affirming that it was not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary withdrawal (or redeployment) date. The resolution was approved 256 to 153. Again, history had repeated itself because last December, 108 congressional Democrats voted “no” and 32 voted “present” on a similar resolution.

Please explain to me again that theory about Democrats regaining legislative control in November.