Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2004 / 2 Kislev, 5765

Bill O'Reilly

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Iraq and roll | Madonna recently told the BBC that she wants American troops out of Iraq right this minute and she's, like, serious. Although there is no truth to the rumor that the diva is being considered for Colin Powell's position should he leave the Bush administration, Madonna is paying attention to world events and wants everybody to know it.

The problem here is that Madonna's desire is pretty much shared by most Americans. Who the heck actually wants U.S. forces in Iraq? No sane person can be happy Americans are targets there. So the issue becomes a simple question: For the sake of national security do U.S. troops have to be in that chaotic country?

Three reasons say yes. First, if we withdraw from Iraq, the country will likely be run by terrorist sympathizers who will cooperate with Al Qaeda and neighboring Iran. If it were a movie, it might be called "Taliban Two: The Return of the Maniacs."

Two, a civil war could break out inside Iraq, and the bloodbath would be brutal. Any Iraqi who cooperated with the U.S. or Britain would be in grave danger. The Kurds would probably break away, and the chaos would be unbelievable.

And three, no country would ever trust America again when called upon to actively help us fight terror. Also, if the U.S. bails out of Iraq, it would be seen as a major victory for the terrorists, and the jihadists would take the offensive even more aggressively against the West.

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Now, I don't want to upset Madonna with a whole bunch of cause-and-effect analysis. She has enough on her plate spending enormous sums of money and tending to her image. The woman simply does not need the burden of complicated thought.

But for the rest of us who would like some security in this world, the Iraq war is a frustrating, history-defining experience that requires patience and discipline. We are, indeed, caught between Iraq and a hard place. This situation is crucial for the world.

Unfortunately, most of the world doesn't care. Western Europe, Russia and China simply don't want to get involved, even though a terrorist-friendly Iraq would cause massive problems for everyone. This apathy is maddening, but it's reality.

So what's the Bush administration to do? The American public is not going to sit by for years and watch body bags come home even if the administration continues to bar the press from showing them. Thus, the President must develop a cohesive timetable for the Iraqis to take over their own defense. As long as the Iraqi people think we will fight their battles for them - they'll let us. Some sense of urgency must be imposed on the Iraqi people by their leaders. Perhaps, Iraqis should be shown a TV documentary on how the South Vietnamese are living these days. Maybe we should call it "Police State Blues."

So I hate to admit this, but Madonna and I share some common ground. I want to get our soldiers out of Iraq as well. But unlike the Material Girl, I live in the real world. And, unfortunately, that world is a complicated and terrifying place.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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