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Don't bail, prevail.

IT SEEMS THERE ARE NEARLY AS MANY proposals to withdraw troops from Iraq as there are U.S. Senators who oppose the war itself. The only thing less edifying than the Bush Administration's ham-fisted approach for managing the war is the belief by the great minds in Washington that a recycled Baker-Hamilton pullout will improve matters. It will almost certainly do the opposite.

The proposers are more focused on the political situation in Washington. Amid vague calls for a diplomatic offensive to stabilize Iraq by "engaging" Syria and Iran, the very parties that feel most threatened by the prospect of democracy on their doorstep and will talk to us only to hasten our flight, there is an unwillingness to recognize that, like it or not, the U.S. will need to maintain a significant presence on the ground to fight al Qaeda and go after terrorists.

The civil war that will follow a precipitous withdrawal will be the least of our worries. A U.S. that fails in Iraq will be unable to thwart an Iranian bomb, prevent Syria from crushing democracy in Lebanon, stop attacks on Israel, or prevent increased funding and sanctuary for global terrorism.

With a media obsessed with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and which has shown scant interest in the horrific nature of the Islamists in Iraq or the courageous efforts of many Iraqis to stop them, it is no wonder that we lose sight of important breakthroughs. An elected government remains in power, under a constitution far more liberal than any other in the Arab Middle East. In the greater region Libya following the war, gave up its advanced arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And then there are the Iraqis themselves, a majority of whom despite the efforts of Iran, Syria, and Sunni extremists, still prefer the chaotic and dangerous present to the barbarism of their recent Saddamite past.

Critics have called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, a change in command in Iraq, and a new strategy on the ground. They have all three.

General Petraeus was promised a fair hearing in September. It would be folly at this stage to give in to defeatism and despair. Given that China and Russia only see oil and petrodollars, we can expect no help from them. If the U.S. leaves the spillover from terrorism is far more likely to impact Europe than the U.S., but don't expect help from that quarter. The Islamo-fascists believe we cannot prevail. It is up to those who seek to lead this country going forward to ensure that they are wrong.

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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2007
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