Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lamont,Yale and the Alamo

The foreign policy views of Ned Lamont have “grown,” as the liberals sometimes say, since he became the Democrat nominee for the US Senate.

In the early days, when Lamont was pushed into a primary race against sitting Sen. Joe Lieberman, his views on Iraq were hardly distinguishable from those of Cindy Sheehan: Get out of Iraq now – or else! At that time, his position on the war might have been described as “open ended retreat.”

Having won the primary, Lamont then went to Yale, and his views have matured. Yale sometimes does this to people.

At the moment, Lamont’s position may best be described as qualified retreat. Lamont has proposed a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, where the United States is engaged in a hot war with Islamic terrorists, and a redeployment of troops to Afghanistan, where the war against terrorism has become more manageable, possibly because terrorists are engaged in Iraq. Presumably, the United States is to retreat from Iraq because it had backed into a war in the Middle East on false premises, and its retreat will serve as a corrective.

The question arises: Will such redeployment be effective?

Is it not reasonable to suppose that if the U. S. pulls its troops from Iraq prematurely, it will open the door to a more successful terrorist organizational effort there? What then would be the point then in redeploying troops to Afghanistan, when the theater of action will be concentrated in an Iraq no longer befouled with U. S. troops? Would it not be more practical to bring home the troops from both countries?

Does Lamont suppose that a retreat from Iraq – and a consequent victory for the terrorists there – will not lead to a military salient against Afghanistan? That being the case, what is the point of redeploying troops to a spot that very shortly will become yet another Iraq?

Waving a white flag in Iraq surely will not convince terrorists that they have been unsuccessful in routing the West. Much of Europe, its head deeply buried in the sand, has been in full retreat from the beginning of the Iraq war. If we now intend to join the retreat, why should we not have a full retreat, when we know that anything less will expose troops remaining in Afghanistan to the same kind of piecemeal slaughter that has weakened American resolve in Iraq? The Lamont’s strategy will make an Alamo out of Afghanistan. Isn’t one Alamo quite enough?

These are the questions that should have been put to Lamont at Yale.

Cindy Sheehan’s view has the virtue of being logically consistent and even courageous – some would say outrageous – but then she’s not running for office.

Any call by Lieberman’s opponents for redeployment in the Middle East is a call for a half-hearted retreat, much less morally defensible than calls by those who want to “stay the course.” Lieberman’s critics object to his deference to Bush’s policy because they think that staying the course is a self delusional folly. It is folly, to their way of thinking, because the transformation of Iraq into a quasi-secular, self governing democracy is an impossibility. The redeployment of troops does not make the impossible more possible; therefore, Lieberman’s opponents who argue for redeployment are deluding themselves most of all. If the war against Islamic terrorism cannot be won in Iraq, it cannot be won anywhere in the Middle East.

The notion being peddled in some quarters that diplomatic overtures will succeed where the marines have failed, or that the United States allied with Europe would somehow be more invincible than the United States alone, is a silly fiction. Orianna Falacci, the Cassandra of Italy who died recently of cancer, pretty nearly gave up on Europe before breathing her last breath. Interviewing the Ayatollah Khomeini shortly after the Shah of Iran had been deposed, she teased him with this question: “How do you swim in a chador?”

“Our customs are none of your business,” Khomeini retorted. “If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women.”

“That’s very kind of you, Imam,” Fallacci replied, “And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She threw off her burka and said, “I will not be imprisoned.” It was said that Khomeini, the godfather of the terrorist movement, laughed.

Falacci could not have suspected at that moment that Khomeini and the terrorists he sired might have the last laugh.

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