Difficult choices regarding Iraq
I think we all have been watching with great interest the debate on the war in Iraq.
The president is counseling patience and the Democrats in Congress, ever mindful of the national anxiety over the war, are sensing that both houses of Congress and the presidency are theirs if they keep flogging the administration and stall progress that Congress is making on any bill that would advance the president's domestic agenda.
In the meantime, Islamic extremists must be giddy over the democratic meltdown in the West.
We are caught with a Hobson's choice. If we stay and fight, our democracies face increasing pressures and potentially mass anti-war demonstrations. If we leave the field of battle, al-Qaeda will declare victory, rally the faithful and redouble the quest for a weapon of mass destruction to further their goal of crushing the West.
Recall that the Islam means submission (to the will of God, their God) and they have been at war against the West since the 11th century. "Sticks and stones may break your bones" but a nuclear weapon in the hands of religious fanatics can really spoil your day.
Whatever one might think of President George W. Bush, you have to admire his tenacity, or as some might say stubbornness, about the war. He has never wavered from his goal to crush Islamic extremists (my term, not his). His single-minded focus on the war has kept us safe here at home. So safe in fact that many feel we are wasting time, money and lives fighting a needless war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Clearly, we are an impatient and unforgiving people. Since you can't prove a negative, Bush gets no credit for the lack of another attack on American soil. But, if an attack were to occur, he would be immediately blamed for failing to protect us.
Some politicians point to the polls and say we must leave Iraq because the American people want an end to war. I say that politicians are elected to LEAD, NOT FOLLOW, public opinion. We send them to Washington to study and became thoroughly conversant on the issues and set aside their personal views to advance the national interest and protect our way of life. However, it appears that sometimes the short-term quest for power outweighs the long term national interest.
Winston Churchill remarked after World War II, "Let us learn our lessons: Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy. Always remember, however sure you are, that you can easily win, that there would not be war if the other man did not think he also had a chance."
-- Lansing resident Bob Ulin taught Middle Eastern studies at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and international relations and national security policy at the Army War College. He earned two master's degrees and is a graduate of an executive management program at the Kennedy School, Harvard University. He is currently an adjunct professor at CGSC.