What Happened to the “War of Necessity”?
posted at 10:20 am on September 22, 2009 by Howard Portnoy
So said Nancy Pelosi on March 8 of 2007. Soon after, both houses of Congress passed a bill for ending the war in Iraq, arguing that it was a distraction from the “real fight.”
The opinion implicit in that resolution — that Iraq was a war of choice and, hence, the “wrong” war, while Afghanistan was a war of necessity, thus the “right” war — was echoed by the three leading Democrat candidates for the presidency at the time, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Howard Dean, leader of the Democrat Party, argued that “we don’t have enough troops in Afghanistan. That’s where the real war on terror is.”
The mainstream media echoed the theme, ratcheting up both the volume and fervor once Barack Obama became the presidential candidate and made this part of his platform. The din became so loud that it drowned out the most reasoned voices on the right, such as that of Charles Krauthammer, who pointed out that Afghanistan was “a geographically marginal backwater with no resources, no industrial and no technological infrastructure,” as compared with Iraq which was
one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure which, though suffering decay in the later Saddam years, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e. wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states.
Krauthammer’s view that an Iraq victory was critical was shared by two individuals with a heavy stake in the outcome of that battle. One of those men said “the most serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq.” The speaker was Osama bin Laden. The other, his chief henchman Ayman al-Zawahiri, said that Iraq “is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.”
But the Dems knew better. They always know better. So they stuck to their guns (so to speak), which is why after Barack Obama was elected president there was general agreement in Congress with his decision to add 21,000 U.S. troops to the combat forces in Afghanistan. He also spoke at the time, as Leslie Gelb writes in today’s Wall Street Journal, of “Afghanistan’s strategic centrality to prevent Muslim extremism from taking over Pakistan—an even more vital nation because of its nuclear weapons” and promised to “fully resource” the war.
That was eight months ago. Flash forward to today, when the general Obama handpicked to run the operation in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, has called for yet more troops. What is Obama’s response? “There is no immediate decision pending on resources, because one of the things that I’m absolutely clear about is you have to get the strategy right and then make a determination about resources.”
So, General Obama is of a mind that you fight a war for a while and then decide on a strategy? Interesting.
More interesting, though, is that all the strong talk about the “right war” and “war of necessity” that must be “waged and won at all costs” has suddenly vanished along with Congress’s and the left’s appetite for this war or for any war.
When a young child asks for more food than he can possibly eat, a wise parent will tell him that his “eyes are bigger than his stomach” and exercise portion control. A weak parent will give in and ending up wasting perfectly good food (or, worse, eating it himself). The Democrats have already bitten off more than they can chew. What do those of us who understand and understood all along that war is not just a political football tell our elected officials now? What do we American citizens say now about all the lives and treasure that have been expended to date in Afghanistan? Do we simply agree to “cut our losses,” as the Democrats and liberal voices are so crudely urging now? What about the ongoing threat from Islamofascists, which is sure to grow more virulent if we pull up stakes, thereby seeming to betray weakness? Finally, what do we tell the brave men and women currently in harm’s way, who may not get the combat forces they need to see this war through?
Cross-posted at Zombie Contentions