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November 10, 2006
The New Guru, Same As The Old Guru

Now that the Democrats have won their Congressional majorities, they now have to govern for the first time in 12 years. They made a lot of campaign promises, especially regarding Iraq, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus wants to make sure those get honored. To that end, they have turned to a new guru on war -- one who led Democrats to a massive defeat via his own defeatism in 1972:

George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June.

If Democrats don't take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won't be in power very long, McGovern told reporters before a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"I think the Democratic leadership is wise enough to know that if they're going to follow the message that election sent, they're going to have to take steps to bring the war to a conclusion," he said. ...

McGovern told the audience Thursday that the Iraq and Vietnam wars were equally "foolish enterprises" and that the current threat of terrorism developed because — not before — the United States went into Iraq.

Unfortunately, Oskar Garcia of the AP doesn't give any details about the context of this last remark. McGovern couldn't possibly be so dense as to mean that terrorism wasn't a threat to the US before 2003, given the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the USS Cole in 2000, the two African embassy bombings in 1998, and so on all the way back to World Trade Center I in 1993. (Well, I suppose he could, but that would be too easy.) I assume the context of the remark was the Gulf War in 1991, where the UN repulsed Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and then tried to "contain" Saddam afterwards with Western military forces staged all over the Middle East, primarily in Saudi Arabia.

That, however, shows precisely the problem with McGovern and his anti-war allies. The 2003 invasion is nothing more than the end stage of the 1991 war, a war that never really ended at all. Saddam kept engaging the same military forces that provided the containment and made other antagonizing moves, most notably the assassination attempt on George H. W, Bush after he left office. It was the "realists" that now have come back into fashion that stopped Bush 41 from marching to Baghdad, forcing the US to leave its troops all over Saudi Arabia and engendering the hostility and rage to which McGovern presumably references. And had we not acted -- after twelve years of low-level war -- to finally end it, those troops would either still be there or would have left after a global capitualtion to Saddam Hussein and his deadly progeny.

And why did we invade Iraq in 1991? Because Saddam had invaded and annexed a key US ally in the region, Kuwait, who provided one of the few strong Arab friendships in the region. Had we not come to their aid -- an action that the UN approved -- we would have seen Saddam pose an immediate threat to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf shipping that brings so much oil to market. We had little strategic choice but to repel Iraq.

The mistake we made was not finishing Saddam when we had him on the ropes in 1991. Had we finished the war in 1991, we wouldn't have had to station troops in Saudi Arabia, and the Shi'ites would likely have been much less radicalized than they are now after the American betrayal later that year. The twelve years of no-fly zones, intermittent bombings, and the flood of kickback money flowing to Saddam and out to who-knows-where would never have happened -- and all of those consequences flowed from the decisions of Brent Scowcroft and other "realists" to stop halfway to Baghdad and allow Saddam to remain in power.

And even then, McGovern still is incorrect. Islamist terrorism had struck US interests all through the 1980s, and even earlier than that in the Teheran capture of our embassy and hostaging of our diplomatic mission for 444 days. McGovern clearly does not recall the numerous actions by Hezbollah in Lebanon. First they conducted a suicide-bombing mission that killed more than 240 of our Marines in 1983. After that, they kidnapped a series of Westerners, primarily but not exclusively Americans, and killed at least one, a CIA officer. They held the men who survived for years, especially Terry Anderson, who lost seven years of his life to those terrorists.

McGovern was proven spectacularly wrong on Viet Nam in the last half of the 1970s, when Congress' failure to come to Saigon's aid allowed our ally to collapse in 1975. That set off a round of atrocities that took the lives of millions in Southeast Asia and brought a flood of refugees to America. Now he wants to repeat the same strategy in Iraq, in an area of vital strategic importance, and the new Democratic majority hangs on his every word. The Democrats learned nothing about global security over the last 30 years, and they're about to prove it all over again.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 10, 2006 5:51 AM

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» The New Guru, Same As The Old Guru from Bill's Bites
Finally, A Man with a Plan Contributed by Zero Ponsdorf George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove [Read More]

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Tracked on November 10, 2006 1:45 PM


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