We awoke this morning, like the rest of you, to news of a terrorist plot that had been stopped by the British with help from US and Pakistani intelligence services. Considering that we return to the states (from Cambridge via London) in just over two weeks, we are somewhat relieved. The Patriot Act, greater collaboration with foreign intelligence services (in this case, Pakistan)--especially the British, and increased attention to our own, averted what could have been a replay of 9/11.
Responses have been typical--if not predictable--from some Democrats and Angry Left bloggers. Democrats have long been the party of minorities, environmentalists, pro-choice advocates, the working class. Since when did it become the party of conspiracy theorists (Michael Moore, etc.)? They march out the tired trope that the threat of terror will help Republicans in the coming election. Ignoring the obvious whacked out conspiracy theory that this threat was somehow "contrived" by Karl Rove and his merry band of spinmeisters, don't they think that maybe, just maybe, the reason they are afraid this will help Republicans is because their party remains "weak" on fighting terror?
Democrat supporters will respond that the idea that they are "weak" on terror is simply a perception and not reality. If it were simply a perception the Angry Left wouldn't have voted for the fool, Ned Lamont, rather than Joe Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has proven himself to be a vocal supporter of the War on Terror, Israel, and the U.S. position in Iraq. Liberal readers of this blog will repeat (time and again, they will repeat) that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Fine. Saddam had no direct involvement with 9/11. Few people would have ever made that argument to begin with. Bush certainly didn't. This is simply liberals favorite straw man to burn when complaining about the war. The consensus is--even among most liberal dems--that if we don't finish the job in Iraq, it will turn into post-Soviet Afghanistan. And that's the real worry. That, our friends is the true concern. Not that Iraq will turn into Vietnam.
Despite the wish of a press that came of age following Vietnam and Watergate, Iraq is not Vietnam and Bush is not Nixon. In the Cold War we were fighting a nation-state--the Soviet Union. Our war today is not with any specific country, but with a transnational ideology--what President Bush today referred to today as Islamic fascists. Borders, treaties, diplomacy, the Geneva Convention, the UN--none of these things mean anything to these Muslim radicals. They hate the West (America included) and will ally themselves with whoever or whatever will provide them the means to attack their target. This much is evidenced by Afghan history over the last 20+ years. Sunnis will unite with Shiites will unite with secular terrorists will unite even with the US in order to defeat a common enemy.
Whether you agree with the reasons we (collectively speaking) are in Iraq or not (and we know many of you did--at least, you did when an overwhelming percentage of Congress voted for war, and some 80% of Americans were in favor of the same, according to opinion polls), you must realize that to pull out now would be disastrous. It would result in a few things of which we can be absolutely sure. First, civil war will engulf Iraq. Besides the obvious negatives for the people of Iraq, such an event would create in Iraq a sort of safe-haven for terrorists, a la Afghanistan pre- and during the reign of the Taliban. Call that reason self interest and a philanthropic long view for our emerging allies, the Iraqis. Secondly, and equally as important, it would send the message that we will back down each and every time the going gets tough. It will tell the islamofascists that all they have to do is outwait us (think Lebanon with President Reagan and Somalia with President Clinton). Whatever else Iraq did, it gave teeth to our War on Terror and sent a message to terrorists and terror sponsoring states. Pulling out anytime before the job is done would tell Iran, Syria, and North Korea (are we forgetting anyone?), that we don't really mean what we say. For the carrot and (big) stick diplomacy to work, they must believe that you will actually use the stick.
All of this makes Lieberman's loss to Lamont all the more incomprehensible. The Angry Left and Democrats generally, send the message that not only are they not tough on terror, they are ignorant of the possible ramifications of an early pull-out. So Lieberman supports Israel, so what? So do most Americans. Most Americans recognize the difference between Israel attacking Hezbollah and civilians dying because Hezbollah uses them as shields, and the out and out disregard for human life--civilian or otherwise--Hezbollah shows by shooting rockets into Israeli cities.
Senator Lieberman understands what's at stake in Iraq and the War on Terror. Like most Americans, he may not now like that we are even in Iraq, but he understands what will happen if we cut and run. But we don't mistake his loss for a popular grassroots groundswell of support for immediate withdrawal. And neither should you. As we learned way back in our high school politics class, the only people who vote in primary elections are the extreme fringes of both parties. That a liberal state like Connecticut was able to produce enough people from the Angry Left to vote in Ned "the fool" Lamont shouldn't surpise anybody. It is telling, however, that a state as liberal as Connecticut, could barely scrape up enough left-wingnuts, completely ignorant of reality, to elect someone whose only semi-coherent position seems to be immediate troop retreat from Iraq.
This fringe position attracted a scant majority of people in a primary election in one of the most liberal states in the Union. At best, this news is no news. No news because come November, when closer to 50% of the electorate turns out rather than a mere 10%, Senator Lieberman, running as an Independent, will win going away. And if he doesn't, Democrats will deserve to be labeled "weak on terror," because they will have turned out one of their toughest, Senator Joe Lieberman.