Friday, November 18, 2005

Suicide

People elect Conservatives to defend the national interest. Now Senate Republicans have abandoned the Iraqi people, demoralized US allies, put US lives at risk at home and in Iraq, and given encouragement to America's enemies.

Senate Republicans passed this (WSJ, subscription, my emphasis):

The resolution -- which passed 79-19 -- sounds innocuous enough: It calls for 2006 to be "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq."

That's pretty much exactly what the White House has in mind assuming next month's Iraqi elections go smoothly. But the harm of the Senate adding its voice here is that it turns the sound strategy of Iraqification into a suggestion that the U.S. might cut and run if the terrorists can prevent things from moving forward exactly as planned.

That was the barely veiled threat from GOP Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, who drafted the resolution. He said he wanted to send a "strong message to Iraqi people and the Iraqi government that you have got to come to grip with your internal problems. . . . It's a signal to the Iraqis that we mean business."

The only interpretation of Warner's "we mean business" is "we will cut and run, leaving you to your fate". He's earned a place in the history books next to Chamberlain - here's what will now happen.

Iraqis will stop helping the coalition

The Iraqi people face savages who do this:

The homicide attackers targeted the Sheik Murad mosque and the Khanaqin Grand Mosque in Khanaqin, 90 miles northeast of Baghdad, as dozens of people were attending Friday prayers, police said. The police command said 74 people were killed and 75 wounded in the largely Kurdish town.

Iraqis have worked with the coalition at great personal risk - remember these men? That made sense if it was going to stick by them until they had stability - as the Brits did in Malaya. But with the US heading for the exit they must protect themselves and their families - they know what happened to South Vietnamese supporters of the US. Starting today, exit informers, translators, election workers and every other Iraqi the coalition has been relying on.

Our soldiers will avoid risk

The Iranians, al Queda and the Baathists now know that all they have to do is keep killing and the US will bolt.

Our armies will go on the defensive. Until this resolution they believed that their risk and sacrifice was buying something profoundly worthwhile - the freedom of an entire people, bringing with it wider democracy and peace in the Middle East, and so reduced risk to coalition homelands.

Now they have reason to fear that they'll be withdrawn whatever the outcome, so only fools will put themselves in harm's way. Look for a return to fortified bases and defensive patrols.

The coalition will dissolve

Brits, South Koreans, Italians, Poles, Australians, Japanese, Danes, and soldiers of other nations are fighting and dying in this war. Their leaders believed that the aim was worth the human and political costs. Now it isn't - the US cutting and running leaves them high and dry. So look for them to withdraw as soon as decently possible.

The Iranians will take over southern Iraq

With the Brits gone and with no reliable US protection, moderate Shiites must look to Iran as their defender against the Sunni onslaught.

The Sunnis will be slaughtered

Iran has over 500,000 troops so is quite capable of exterminating Iraq's Sunnis.

The Kurds will secede

The Kurds can look after themselves, and will do so.

Al Queda will attack the US again

Clinton's weakness convinced Bin Laden that he could stage 9/11 and get away with a slapped wrist. The defeat of the US in Iraq will encourage him to return to the offensive.

All US enemies will be emboldened, and all its friends endangered

China, France, Russia and a strengthened Iran will observe that the US can be beaten by inflicting negligible casualties. They will act accordingly - Taiwan, Israel and Afghanistan are now seriously at risk.

There's no good news here - 13 Republicans voted against this resolution, but so what? The damage cannot be undone. If the Dems take a page from Tony Blair's book, they can use this to put the Republicans out of power for a generation. And it'll be a long time before the world again trusts the US to be steadfast in adversity.