Each place that the coalition openly fights against al Qaeda, the citizens and tribesmen join in, standing side by side with Americans – their differences forgotten – and helping to win back their neighborhoods, their cities, and their country. This is the truth about what is happening on the ground – the truth that the American people do not hear, and Ms. Pelosi will not say.
There is no “Plan B” to success in Iraq. If we fail there, the Iraqi government and its security institutions will almost certainly crumble under the pressure of widespread sectarian violence, ethnic cleansing, and extrajudicial killing. The chaos, which would spread across the country like wildfire, is likely to engulf the entire region. Even if it did not reach that far, our withdrawal would give al Qaeda exactly what they have so often asked for: a base of operations outside of Afghanistan, from which they can carry out attacks on American interests and on our homeland itself.
The American military can win this fight. What is needed is for the American people, and their leaders, to put politics aside in favor of presenting a united front against those who, regardless what concessions we make, will do their utmost to kill us. The effort will take time; all successful counterinsurgencies have. The time that winning the peace in Iraq will take is compounded by the fact that, for the Iraqi people to decide to put their lives on the line and to stand together against their murderous enemies, we must first convince them that we are committed to staying there to support them for as long as it takes.
Once upon a time… is now. Think, people. Withdrawal has real consequences. The New York Times has spelled them out: real consequences for real people who will be very thoroughly dead and cold and forgotten a year or two or ten from now at the hands of evil men and as a direct result of such small-minded, short-sighted reactionary impulses.
And win we must.