Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Q: Have We Fought and Won the Battle of Gettysburg in Iraq?

A: Not if terrorist enablers in the media and Congress can help it!

On July 1, 1863, the Copperheads, who opposed the war, were powerful, influential, and loud in their objections to the high cost of the war in blood and treasure, and they were hateful in their denunciation of the president. (One of their favorite insults was to compare him to an ape.) England was seriously considering intervening on behalf of the Confederacy, which would have been disastrous for the North. Robert E. Lee had invaded Pennsylvania and was determined to threaten Washington, D.C. from the north. His intent was to force the Union to acknowledge the futility of prosecuting the war any longer and to sue for peace on terms the South would find very satisfactory. Union troops rushed to Gettysburg to block his way.

We all know what happened. For three bloody days the two armies locked in mortal combat. Thousands died on both sides, and many more thousands were wounded or maimed for life. The South came within a whisker of winning, but were turned back because of heroic sacrifices by Union troops. Let me point out here, that the Rebel troops were not in any way less brave or heroic, but their sacrifice and effort was only marginally less successful. That small margin was the margin of victory, and Lee lost many more men than he could ever hope to replace. That loss spelled the eventual doom of the Confederacy. Had Lee prevailed at Gettysburg, the war would have ended in 1863, with our nation divided and our Union at an end. But on July 4, as Lee began to withdraw what remained of his forces from the field of battle, the aura of invincibility that Southern soldiers had worn like a mantle was permanently dispelled. Overnight, sentiment for intervention evaporated in England, and the Copperheads, though still loud in their denunciation of Lincoln, began losing influence. The war dragged on for nearly two more agonizing, brutal, years, but it was at Gettysburg that the tide turned.

For years, the anti-war Democrats, aided by their allies in the media, have decried our efforts in Iraq as doomed to failure and defeat. They’ve fairly gloated whenever terrorists have succeeded in attacking and killing Iraqi civilians or coalition forces. They’ve long compared this war to the "quagmire that was Vietnam," and have openly supported and given comfort to the enemy in Iraq. For reasons that are beyond me, they’ve lobbied unceasingly for defeat. They’ve been unable to hide their worry whenever coalition forces have seemed to be on the verge of any kind of success, however temporary. Any time anything good happens in Iraq, they downplay and minimize it, or point to the latest suicide bombing or helicopter crash, or to any of a myriad of good things that aren’t happening, or haven’t happened yet.

Last week, President Bush began pushing back, comparing the aftermath of the Communist victory in southeast Asia, the massacres in Vietnam and Cambodia, the thousands of boat people desperate to escape oppression and genocide, and claiming similar consequences in the Middle East if we give up in Iraq. The Leftist response was immediate and vitriolic. How dare he? How dare the Chimp-in-Chief use their favorite analogy, the Vietnam quagmire, how dare he use that against them? What unfathomable arrogance! They were almost apoplectic in righteous indignation.

Last year western Iraq, particularly al-Anbar province was described in a Marine Corps intelligence report as a hopelessly impenetrable al Quaida stronghold. Monday, September 3, 2007, President George W. Bush met with members of his cabinet as well as with Nouri al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders, in al-Anbar, to discuss how best to get money and projects going in the province as a reward to the people for turning against al Quaida and joining the fight to make it safe for Iraqis. Almost simultaneously, Frederick W. Kagan at National Review Online, published a column claiming that this represented an accomplishment similar to winning the Battle of Gettysburg, that we have turned the corner in Iraq. Other columns appeared elsewhere, claiming similar accomplishments.

Undeterred and unbowed, terrorist enablers in the main stream media published stories the very next day touting a GAO report that showed that the Iraqi government had not met 11 of 18 benchmarks critical to success in Iraq. They tiptoed carefully around the obvious assumption that there were 7 of the benchmarks that they had met, at least partially. They were following the time tested pattern. If anything good happens in Iraq, downplay it, point to something bad happening, or barring that, point to all the good things that aren’t happening.

There’s no question in my mind that good things are starting to happen in Iraq. It's obvious there’s much left to do, that won’t get done if we leave now or in the near future.
So have we, as Kagan claims, fought and won the Battle of Gettysburg in the current conflict in Iraq? I don’t know. Time will tell. Modern day Copperheads in the press and in Congress, still have power and influence. Terrorist enablers are still loud and influential. If they succeed in stampeding us out of Iraq where the jihadis and terrorists have failed to defeat our forces in the field, then the consequences for our world and the Middle East will be just as dire as the consequences would have been for the United States if Union forces hadn’t turned Lee back at Gettysburg in 1863.