Whether anyone likes it or not, this election comes down to one question. Sure, a variety of issues are at play, but the one overriding theme is Iraq.
Make no mistake. If elected, Democrats will pull out of Iraq. They may try and play word games, calling for "redeployment" or "changes in strategy," but the net effect will be to leave Iraq.
Admittedly, things have not gone well in Iraq. We are sobered by the deaths of American soldiers. But do not kid yourselves, if we leave now, things will get worse.
Context. It's a wonderful word, but few people understand what it means. In the case of Iraq, historical context helps give us perspective and greater understanding of the struggle we face. Our experience in Japan and Germany after WWII teach us that establishing successfull, self-sustaining democracies is neither a short nor easy process. Those were never countries considered "ripe" for democracy. Conversely, we know what happens when the US pulls out before the job is finished. One need look no further than Vietnam, Somalia, and Lebanon for a cautionary tale.
These were fights the US did not have to lose. We had the military might, but the American public and its leaders lacked the will. As a direct result of that weakness of will, millions of people died and innocent people in Somalia, Lebanon, Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia continue to pay the price.
We mourn the civilian casualties in Iraq, but if we lose, if we give up now or anytime before Iraq can defend and maintain itself, numbers that can now be figured with five digits will jump to six and then seven. We wont be lamenting 30,000 deaths, we'll be outraged at the hundreds of thousands and then millions.
If we leave, various terrorist states and rogue nations will be emboldened. Rather than the voluntary disarmament we saw in Libya after Iraq, we will see more Irans and North Koreas.
We support the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq for the same reasons we outlined just over a year ago: Iraq is the central battle in the war on terror. This is not a war in the traditional sense, in which nation-states engage in set piece battles governed by the Geneva Convention. This is a war with a trans-national ideology--a war that does not recognize borders and boundaries. Worse still, it is a war in which our opponent places no value on human life. They will kill man, woman, and child and they will not negotiate. If we leave Iraq, it wont end our fight with the jihadists, it will simply force us to wage battle on a ground not of our choosing. We fear that ground will be US soil.
In our hierarchy of political priorities, we place the most value on a candidate's position on Iraq. When we fill out our absentee ballot thousands of miles from our home district in Washington, we will ask ourselves one question: does this candidate want to fight the jihadists in the homeland or in Iraq?