What we are fighting for in Iraq

Cliff May:

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For almost 30 years, the Middle East has seethed with movements dedicated to a clearly articulated goal: "Death to America!" With rare exceptions, elected leaders in Washington have responded fecklessly. Their excuse: However hostile the intentions of these self-proclaimed enemies of the U.S., they haven't the capabilities to deliver more than glancing blows.

After the devastating attacks carried out on American soil six years ago this month, Americans began to recognize that those who hate us are diligently and creatively developing the means necessary to achieve the ends they seek.

Saddam Hussein was the weakest of America's Middle Eastern enemies. Perhaps to camouflage that he made it appear –to all the world's major intelligence agencies -- that he retained dangerous stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Toppling Saddam turned out to be a relatively easy mission to accomplish. But the Bush Administration's strategic planning for what would come next was obviously -- and sorely -- deficient.

The U.S. is now being challenged militarily in Iraq by both al-Qaeda and Iran. Does anyone really believe it is not in the U.S. interest to win these battles? Does anyone honestly think it would not be a significant defeat for the U.S. to be driven from Iraq by al-Qaeda suicide car-bombers and militias armed, trained and directed by Iran?

A year ago, al-Qaeda was beating America in Iraq. Now, with Gen. David Petraeus implementing a new strategy, al-Qaeda is on the run. But even as Osama bin Laden's troops have lost ground, Iran has surged men and increasingly advanced weapons across the border. American military spokesmen now say the Iranian-supported militias are responsible for many if not most of the attacks that kill or wound American troops.

At the same time, Tehran continues its program to develop nuclear weapons. And it is intent on extending its regional domination. With assistance from Syria, its client state, and Hezbollah, its proxy terrorist organization, Iran is undermining the government of Lebanon. The list of Lebanese politicians who have been assassinated for daring to stand up for their nation's independence has been growing.

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Unfortunately there are many in the Democrat Party who seem to think it is in their interest that we lose in Iraq. They see political advantage in our defeat and they have been putting themselves on record in vote after vote seeking that defeat. That says much about their character and judgment and none of it is good.

There are some signs that the threat from Iran will be taken semi seriously. It appears that the Democrats are at least willing to bluster and bluff with Iran in much the same way they did with Iraq in the 1990s. When it comes to a choice of doing something effective don't count on them, and if they do some how muster the courage for effective action never count on them when the going gets tough.

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