When someone asked my dad, Ronald Reagan, what his strategy was for fighting the Cold War, he gave a simple answer: “We win; they lose.”
Boiled down to its essence, that’s pretty much what President Bush said Tuesday night and it drove the Democrats up the wall. Winning wars doesn’t matter to them; the only thing that matters is winning elections, and it also drives them up the wall that all they’ve done lately is lose.
In a calm and persuasive manner, Bush described the strategy for victory in the war against Islamic terrorism, making it clear that the struggle in Iraq and that war are the same thing – an obvious fact the Democrats can’t seem to grasp. He stressed that the three steps being taken are partnering U.S. and Iraqi units, embedding U.S. advisers with Iraqi troops and helping Iraqi ministry officials to coordinate antiterrorism operations.
As he has often done, he invoked the specter of 9/11, and it seems to have unhinged the Democrats who abhor making any connections between 9/11 and the war in Iraq, ignoring the fact that it was al-Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 and it is al-Qaeda’s thugs who are the main enemy in Iraq.
West Virginia’s Sen. Jay Rockefeller was aghast at the president’s use of the September 11 theme: “I can’t explain him or his policies. I think it’s a natural cycle: You go through the various scenarios that don’t work, and then you go and start back at the beginning and see if the American people are willing to buy that. They won’t”
Wanna bet, Senator? Americans know the truth when they see it.
“What the president was talking about was that September 11 taught us important lessons,” presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said. “It taught us that we must confront threats before they full materialize, before they reach our shores.” He drew the connection between the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four airliners and the insurgents fighting in Iraq.
“These are the same kind of people,” he said. “They are terrorists who seek to dominate the Middle East. … and the president made the decision that we could no longer ignore these emerging threats that were building in the Middle East.”
To get around the obvious 9/11 connection, the Democrats claim that it is only because we went to war against Saddam Hussein that al-Qaeda came into the insurgency there, and it is therefore President Bush’s fault that we are now facing what amounts to a guerilla war being fought there largely by non-Iraqis.
It doesn’t occur to them that the best strategy in warfare is to fight on the ground of your own choosing. That’s what we’ve done by going into Afghanistan and Iraq. If al-Qaeda is allowed to pick the battleground it would be where they started the whole thing, in places such as New York and Washington and Pennsylvania.
The common complaint among Hill Democrats– unjustified by the facts – was the allegation that the president had failed to lay out a coherent strategy. According to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, “The speech the president made could have been made one year ago, two years ago. It really wasn’t anything new. What we were looking for last night was for the president to take initiative for a strategy for success, with specific plans on what the milestones were so our troops can come home safely.”
I guess she wasn’t listening very carefully to the president when he explained in terms simple enough for even Congressional Democrats to grasp: that the initiative for success was to teach the new Iraqi military how to defeat the terrorists and help them until they can handle the job themselves. This, he said, will take time, but wars are not won overnight, even if the Democrats think they should be.
None of that was good enough for Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold who complained about the president’s alleged refusal to discuss an exit strategy.
Once again, the president has an exit strategy: We win; they lose.
If the Democrats will allow us to, that is.
©2005 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561