The unending war

The Baltimore Sun

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Before Congress adjourned last week on another of its lengthy holidays, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeated a phrase she has used about the war in Iraq. She again referred to it as "the Bush policy of unending war in Iraq."

She got it partly right. It is an unending war, at least until one side vanquishes the other side. There will be no truce in this war; no "38th Parallel," as with the two Koreas. This war will be unending, not because of "Bush policy" but because of the Islamofascists whose jihad they believe is a direct order from their "compassionate and merciful" God.

Were the dominant surrender wing of the Democratic Party to have its way, American troops would immediately come home, causing all of Iraq to devolve into murderous chaos. There would be not only religious retribution against those who worship differently from the majority but also the murder of "collaborators," meaning those who voted, assisted in the writing of Iraq's constitution and helped the U.S. while trying to help themselves.

As the Pentagon reportedly drafts scenarios related to U.S. troop withdrawal, the enemy plans for victory. Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged his supporters to extend the "holy war" to other Middle Eastern countries. Mr. al-Zawahiri sent a letter to the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq claiming that al-Qaida is defeating U.S. forces and urging followers to expand their campaign of terror. Clearly, Mr. al-Zawahiri sees this as an unending war. He is not planning a pullback of his forces, but urging them on.

In Lebanon, a country that until last summer's disastrous war between Israel and Hezbollah had enjoyed a level of peace and prosperity, Islamic forces in the siege at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp reportedly have spent months digging underground bunkers in advance of an anticipated battle they promise will last "two years or more." The Sunday Telegraph reports that Shihab al-Qaddour, the deputy leader of the Fatah al-Islam group, said his band of several hundred "battle-hardened" fighters had built extensive subterranean fortifications. Fatah's military commander is quoted as saying his group is "ready to blow up every place in Lebanon." Unending.

The SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities) Institute, which monitors jihadist Web sites from its base in the U.S., reports a flood of support for Fatah al-Islam from members of Internet forums affiliated with al-Qaida since fighting broke out a little more than a week ago. Democrats repeatedly say we should only be fighting al-Qaida, so does that mean we should invade Lebanon? Because al-Qaida is in Iraq, shouldn't we continue the fight there until we and the Iraqis prevail?

This political battle in America isn't about al-Qaida and it isn't about victory, otherwise Democrats would be trying to help their country win in Iraq - not just for the sake of Iraq but for their country's sake. Instead, the liberal and controlling wing of their party cares more about political victory here than ending this war with victory for Iraq, establishing a second democracy in the region and teaching the jihadists a lesson they will not soon forget.

Wars are frustrating. People die. Mistakes are made. The United States has made many mistakes in previous wars, but the media weren't broadcasting them nonstop in real time, as they are in this one.

The Iraq war is not like Vietnam. We can't pull out until stability is achieved and the terrorists lose. Vietnamese communists didn't come after us when that war ended, but Islamic terrorists will. They will be emboldened to kill more than the almost 3,000 who died on 9/11 if we don't demonstrate resolve at least equal to theirs.

Among America's past enemies, only Japan had a religious motivation for fighting us. Douglas MacArthur rightly separated religion from state when he was in charge of Japan's reconstruction.

That is a worthy objective in this war, but first we have to win it, or it will truly be unending until they win it.

Cal Thomas' syndicated column appears Wednesdays in The Sun. His e-mail is

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