Daniel Greenfield’s new Freedom Center pamphlet, The Great Betrayal: Obama's Wars and the War in Iraq, is an effort to understand the politics of the “war on terror” which has now reached a final punctuation point with the U.S. decision to speed its withdrawal from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan (where success was once deemed so crucial to national security), and to practice an incoherent form of regime change in Libya while ignoring more serious threats in Syria and Iran.
The war on terror began, Greenfield shows, as an admirable bipartisan commitment soon after the tragedy of 9/11—an effort to transcend party lines not only to punish those who attacked our country but also to interrupt planning for further attacks and try to stop the international spread of the Islamic jihad behind the attacks. But the Democratic Party, with the honorable exception of a few individuals like Richard Gephardt and Joe Lieberman, turned its back on a war soon after authorizing it, and did so at a time when American troops were facing hostile enemy fire.
Although Senate Democrats on the intelligence oversight committee had been granted access to every piece of data available to the White House, they now accused President Bush of tricking them to secure their approval. In fact, their own about-face was entirely dictated by political considerations when a Sixties antiwar activist, Howard Dean, surged ahead in the Democratic primary polls and it appeared for a moment that Americans were on the side of retreat and capitulation.
Although regime change in Iraq had been official U.S. policy since Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, Democratic senators such as John Kerry who only months earlier had supported the war effort now launched demoralizing attacks on the American commander-in-chief and his troops in the field, stigmatizing it as “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” If the truth was the first casualty of their war against the Bush administration, the second casualty was the principle of bi-partisanship that had guided foreign policy debates throughout the Cold War, the principle that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” Now partisan politics trumped security.
The unrestrained attacks on the Iraq War as illegal and unjustified went largely unanswered by Republicans who failed to call the Democratic saboteurs of the nation’s war effort to account or to decry the risk their cynical attacks posed to American servicemen and women on the battlefield. As Greenfield demonstrates, the Democrats’ partisanship had consequences not only in Iraq but elsewhere in the region: the paralysis that resulted from their “anti-war” campaign led straight to the destruction of Lebanon and the installation of a terrorist army, Hezbollah, there as a regime within a regime. And it emboldened an overtly Islamofascist regime in Iran not only to supply the IEDs responsible for most of our troop fatalities in Iraq but also to proceed with a nuclear program aimed directly at Israel and the West.
The Great Betrayal shows that Barack Obama’s abandonment of Iraq is a betrayal of all the Americans and Iraqis who gave their lives to establish freedom in that country. And the result of his policies in Afghanistan has been as disastrous. While the President presented his rationale for pursuing war there as the pursuit of al-Qaeda, after abandoning his “surge” (which resulted in two thirds of all America’s Afghan casualties there and the resurgence of the Taliban allies of al-Qaeda), he blithely prepared for withdrawal as if national objectives had been met.
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