Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2004 / 14 Tishrei, 5765
Up next, finally, a debate on Iraq policy
John Kerry has changed positions on Iraq more often than some of his
supporters have changed their underwear. But if he sticks with his current
position through the first presidential debate, Americans will have the
debate on Iraq policy we deserve to have.
For Kerry and most of his fellow Democrats, every war is like Vietnam, an
(in their view) American overreach that begins in hubris and ends in
U.S. Army LtCol. Powl Smith, a counter-terrorism expert on the staff of the
MultiNational Force in Baghdad, thinks Iraq is more like Guadalcanal.
Guadalcanal is an island in the Solomons chain uncomfortably close to
Australia. It was the site of the first American counteroffensive against
the Japanese in World War II. The Marines seized the Japanese airstrip
on the island in a surprise attack. But, as LtCol Smith noted in an article
in the Weekly Standard, "the Japanese recovered from our initial success,
and began a long and brutal campaign to force us off Guadalcanal."
We held off the Japanese, and the tide in the Pacific was turned. Ever
thereafter, the Japanese were on the defensive. But it took six months and
6,000 U.S. casualties (compared to 24,000 Japanese) to do it.
In Iraq as at Guadalcanal, we achieved stunning initial success. In Iraq as
at Guadalcanal, the enemy has fought back ferociously, because they realize
defeat would leave them in an untenable position. And in Iraq, as on
Guadalcanal, we are grinding the enemy down.
American troops and Iraqi security forces have been killing terrorists in
bunches. MajGen. Gary Harrell, commander of Special Operations Forces in
Central Command, told Bret Baier of Fox News that there are fewer than
10,000 enemy combatants in Iraq, and there may be fewer than 5,000.
The gruesome tactics of the terrorists in Iraq kidnappings and beheadings
and suicide bombings have been cited by Democrats and journalists as
signs that things are getting worse.
But to thoughtful observers, these seem more like signs of desperation.
Gilles Kepel, a French Arabist, thinks the followers of Osama bin Laden are
Not only have the Islamists failed to achieve their goal of seizing power in
Muslim lands, they have suffered since Sept. 11th, 2001 a string of major
defeats, Kepel noted. The Taliban has been ousted in Afghanistan. Pakistan
and Saudi Arabia have turned towards the West. Islamists in Sudan and Libya
are in retreat. The plight of the Palestinians has worsened. The Americans
are in Baghdad.
"Kepel argues that the insurgents' brutal tactics in Iraq the kidnappings
and beheadings, the car bombing massacres of young Iraqi police recruits
are increasingly alienating the Muslim masses," wrote Washington Post
columnist David Ignatius. "No sensible Muslim would want to live in
Fallujah, which is now controlled by Taliban-style fanatics. Similarly, the
Muslim masses can see that most of the dead from al Qaeda bombings in Turkey
and Morocco were fellow Muslims."
Iraqis have noticed that they, and not the Americans, are now the chief
targets: "Since Jan. 1st more than 700 Iraqi security force members have
been killed, and hundreds of Iraqis seeking to volunteer for the police and
military have been killed as well," said LtGen. David Petraeus, who is in
charge of training the Iraqi security forces, in an article in the
Washington Post Sept. 26th.
But this hasn't discouraged them. There continue to be more volunteers for
the Iraqi police, national guard and army than there are training slots
The level of violence in Iraq is likely to increase over the next few months
as the terrorists try desperately to derail the Iraqi elections slated for
January. They know that successful elections could be the final nail in
In his column in the New York Times Sept. 28th, David Brooks noted the risks
the people of El Salvador were willing to take to vote in elections in the
midst of the civil country in the 1980s, and how just having those elections
undermined the insurgency.
"As we saw in El Salvador and as Iraqi insurgents understand, elections suck
the oxygen from a rebel army," Brooks said. "They refute the claim that
violence is the best way to change things. Moreover, they produce
democratic leaders who are better equipped to win an insurgency war."
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington
and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
administration. Comment by clicking here.
Jack Kelly Archives
© 2004, Jack Kelly