Al Qaeda is the main enemy in Iraq

Larry Kudlow:

Our last, best hope in Iraq -- Gen. David Petraeus -- reminded Pentagon reporters this week of a critically important fact long forgotten by most observers: Our real enemy in Iraq, the true source of all the murders, mayhem, and instability, is not sectarian strife. And it's not the Sunnis or the Shiites, either. The real enemy we face in Iraq is al-Qaida.

According to the top American commander in Iraq, al-Qaida's No. 1 priority is defeating the United States in Iraq. The general called this organization "public enemy No. 1," adding that "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of al-Qaida's global campaign."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't understand this. Nor, for that matter, do the other defeatist Democrats carelessly demanding our immediate withdrawal. They fail to grasp that the root of our problems in Iraq -- again, the true source of the hostilities -- remains al-Qaida. These murderous thugs are fomenting the sectarian strife on both sides of the Iraqi street. Their tactic is the nadir of nihilism.

In contrast to the blind Harry Reid contingent, I'd like to highlight one remarkably clear thinker who does get what's going on in this war -- someone who recognizes the true enemy and is able to articulate his position in breathtaking clarity. I'm talking about Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Frankly, no public official understands what's at play better than Lieberman. He set forth his lucid position in Thursday's Washington Post and brought it alive when I interviewed him on "Kudlow & Company" later that day.

Lieberman forcefully stated that "al-Qaida, after all, isn't carrying out mass murder against civilians in the streets of Baghdad because it wants a more equitable distribution of oil revenue. Its aim in Iraq isn't to get a seat at the political table; it wants to blow up the table -- along with everyone seated at it."

To miss this point is to miss the crux of this conflict. There can be no doubt about the central role being played by al-Qaida in this war. Its domination of the Iraqi theatre is unmistakable. It is the hinge of this war. And, lest we forget, these are the same murderers who bombed us on Sept. 11, 2001. They are terrorists who have made crystal clear their intention to subvert us at every turn. And make no mistake about it -- they are regrouping in order to strike us again.

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There is more.

One of the problems the Democrats have is that many in that party are still angry about the decision to go to war in Iraq, but they have lost focus of their rationale for leaving. They say they want to get away from the distraction and focus on al Qaeda. Well duh, al Qaeda is focused on Iraq. They are saying it in word and deed. Their top operational commander was just captured entering Iraq to take over for Zarqawi and his successor.

What ever the Democrats may think about the rationale for going into Iraq, the one they have given for leaving makes no sense whatsoever. We are fighting al Qaeda and we have Iraqis helping us in that fight. Leaving that battle or withdrawing to enclaves would be a gift to the enemy for some short term political gain for Democrats, but would do great damage to our long term war efforts. The fact is that whether or not Iraq and al Qaeda were working together before the war started in Iraq, al Qaeda has given battle in this battle space and our retreat from it would not end the war, but would be a fantastic gift to our main enemy.

The Democrats are making a false promise that they can end this war. Al Qaeda declared war on us well before we responded and al Qaeda will continue the war even if we leave Iraq. They will just have greater resources and an area of operations to continue their fight.

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