Tough Choices Ahead for Anti-War Movement
For those who are opposed to the war in Iraq, this is a difficult time. While Democratic leaders like Senator Joe Biden (DE) and John Kerry (MA) are offering criticism but still arguing that this is a war we must win, others such as the powerful leftist group, MoveOn.org are pushing for immediate withdrawal.
But withdrawal equals defeat. And defeat doesn’t mean we all go back to living in peace. This is not Vietnam where the enemy will cheer our departure and then set up a government that never really troubles us again. No, if the enemy wins in Iraq, you can be sure they will turn the country into a terrorist breeding ground focused at launching attacks at the Western world.
To those who say we wouldn’t be in this mess if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, there is little answer other than to say: unfortunately, at this point, that doesn’t matter. We did invade. And agreement or disagreement with that decision shouldn’t cloud reaction to the current realities.
Timothy Garton Ash makes much the same point today in The Guardian. After harshly criticizing Bush for creating this “massive blunder,” he points out to Europeans:
It would be suicidally dumb for any European to think, in relation to Iraq, "the worse the better". Jihadists now cutting their teeth in Iraq will make no fine distinctions between Washington and London, Berlin or Madrid. Any reader tempted to luxuriate schadenfreudishly in the prospect of a Vietnam-style US evacuation from Baghdad may be woken from that reverie by the blast from a bomb, planted in Charing Cross tube station by an Iraq-hardened terrorist.
I would add, terrorists hardened in Iraq aren’t going to target only Americans who supported the invasion. Voters in both Washington, DC and New York City gave Kerry over 90% of their support in 2004. But that doesn’t make either city any less of a target.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting people should be scared into supporting our continued involvement in Iraq. I’m just pointing out that the stakes have changed. We’re no longer fighting Saddam Hussein’s army that had no relation to al Qaeda. We are now fighting insurgents and terrorists that have clear and admitted ties to al Qaeda. You might agree with The Guardian that getting into this situation was a “massive blunder,” but you should also agree that withdrawing now would be a catastrophe.
Opponents of the war find themselves in a very difficult position. The conflict has morphed from a war of choice into a war of necessity. Can the anti-war movement adapt?