“Smart security” – that is what the Democrats promise to deliver if elected this November. After five years of being labeled “weak” and “pre-Sept. 11” on their national security policies, the Democrats are mounting a counter-offensive to take back the issue. However, a close inspection of what the Democrats’ “smart security” entails scares the shit out of me.

Angela Cesere

Public support for the war in Iraq has dropped precipitously since its inception in March 2003. With each passing day, the American people grow more war-weary and skeptical of the men and women who sent our armed forces into battle under what we now know to be false pretenses. Understandably, Americans want their troops out as soon as possible and are looking for someone to blame for the perceived misuse of force.

It is clear the Democratic Party intends to blur its support of the Iraq War by developing selective amnesia. Incumbents who voted for the war and face tough re-elections, such as Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), make bold proclamations that they would not have voted for the war if they knew WMD’s were not present in Iraq. Wow, my eyes tear up at the Democrats’ offering their apologies.

The strategy is simple – by distancing themselves from their war votes, Democrats will pander to the growing antiwar wing of their party. Any questions about the Democrats’ previous support for the Iraq War are met with condemnation towards the Bush administration for duping the poor, hapless Democrats into authorizing it. All the key intelligence President Bush used to justify the war was available to Democratic members of Congress, so they were either poor analysts or too busy to read the documents. Either way, is this really the type of people who should run our government?

Smart security calls for “strategic redeployment” – a.k.a. cut and run – from Iraq by moving forces back to the Afghan front. Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Penn.), the Democratic point man on security, suggested American forces could play an emergency support role in Iraq from American bases in Okinawa, Japan. Apparently, Murtha failed geography, because redeploying troops to Bangor, Maine would put them just as close to Iraq and would accomplish the goal of bringing the troops home. Then again, no one asked that the Democrats’ plan for Iraq makes sense – only that they have one.

Smart security has a legitimate point in that the resistance in Afghanistan has grown in strength since the invasion of Iraq. The continued trade of opium in Afghanistan funds the rebels, and the Bush Administration has failed to provide alternative economic activities for the opium farmers. I do not think anyone should be adverse to moving more American troops back into the region to counter the resistance, but the belief by most Democrats that Afghanistan represents the central front in the war on terror simply because Osama bin Laden was headquartered there shows an inability to analyze risk.

Whether you agree with the decision to invade Iraq or not, Iraq has turned into the central front in the war on terror. President Bush knows it, al-Qaida spokesterrorists constantly remind their jihadists of it, and implicit in the Democratic rant about Bush creating a safe haven for terrorists in Iraq is recognition of the danger the country now poses. The Democratic plan is to run away in the face of adversity. We need only to look at the post-Vietnam fallout for a model of how this conflict will end if the Democrats get their way.

Emboldened by the withdrawal of American forces, the North Vietnamese invaded Laos and then successfully countered an attack from Cambodia, all the way expanding their communist influence in the region. American prestige in the international community took an enormous hit as the loss in Vietnam raised serious questions about our will to defeat communism in the Cold War.

Thirty years later, we are encountering the same problems. If we leave Iraq too soon, it will become even more of a safe haven for terrorists to train and rally from. The terrorist stronghold could serve as a launching pad for invasions into neighboring countries. Innocent civilians who supported the United States will be targeted for elimination. The Iraqi coalition government that we promised to support will fall and view the United States through eyes of the betrayed. Who knows – the former coalition government officials could join arms with the terrorists in opposition of American presence in the region. Civil war will break out between the ethnic factions and our troops will witness all of this through a powerful telescope on Okinawa.

The only responsible course is the one President Bush advocated all along – stabilize the government, train the Iraqi security forces, engage the terrorist strongholds, rebuild the Iraqi economy and leave gradually. We face too great a challenge in the war on terror to trust a group of politicians whose support for armed conflict is guided by public opinion polls. Keeping these Democrats out of power – that’s smart security.

Stiglich can be reached at jcsgolf@umich.edu.

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