WASHINGTON - "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain..." (The Gettysburg Address)
No life is more wasted than one lost in vain.
After the U.S. military battled heroically to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and to eliminate the possibility that it might become a staging area for terrorist attacks, the Obama administration has created a vacuum now being filled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaida affiliate, which has overrun Mosul and Fallujah, cities liberated by American soldiers. ISIS now threatens Baghdad.
The administration's nonpolicy policy proclaiming the war over, has given ISIS a green light to establish another terrorist state in the Middle East. Following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, al-Qaida will likely have two states from which it can plan and execute new assaults on America, Israel, Britain and other "infidel" nations. Having declared the war(s) over and al-Qaida "on the run," President Obama responds with empty rhetoric about his national security team studying what to do, then leaves for a trip that will end on a golf course in Palm Springs.
Vice President Biden once called Iraq one of the president's "great achievements."
On Friday, the president announced the U.S. would not send military forces back to Iraq unless the Iraqi government finds a way to bridge sectarian differences. Even then, he suggested, military power alone won't bring stability to the country. Basically, the president said, "Iraq, you're on your own."
Imagine what the families of dead and wounded U.S. soldiers think about the sudden resurgence of al-Qaida in Iraq. They were told their sons and daughters died in a noble cause. According to "The Costs of War Project" at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, "The wars begun in 2001 have been tremendously painful for millions of people ... each additional month and year of war adds to that toll." The Rock River Times writes, "Coalition deaths in Iraq totaled more than 4,700, with the United States sustaining more than 4,480 deaths through the Iraq War's official end Dec. 15, 2011. More than 32,000 other U.S. troops were wounded in Iraq, while more than 134,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the course of the official war." The monetary cost is in the trillions of dollars. Are we now saying, "Never mind"?
The U.S. has no serious counterintelligence operation in Iraq, because it refuses to perceive a commensurate threat from a global enemy or to see the deadly purpose and scope of this enemy. It does not appreciate the scale of the upheaval among the world's 1.3 to 1.6 billion Muslims, and the money, motives, power and near-total information control held by the Islamists who are committed to the destruction of their enemies and the subordination, forced conversion and re-education of those they allow to live. The jihadists in Iraq recently looted $429 million from Mosul's central bank, according to the regional governor, making them possibly the richest terrorist group ever.
Our focus under this administration is unimaginatively constrained largely to the Middle East, but the growing threat of Islamic terrorism is not just there. The Islamist infiltration of schools in Birmingham, England, is an example for what is to come there and in the U.S. if they are not stopped.
The administration and much of the media try to separate "fanatical Muslims" from "peaceful" ones, but the distinction is meaningless when the fanatics have the weapons and are willing to die for their cause.
This war for the future of the planet is not over and is unlikely to be for generations to come. While it's true we can't be the policemen of the world, we can be its prisoners in a world ruled by Islamic fundamentalists. If Western nations don't combine to use their moral, monetary, religious, intelligence and, yes, military power to stop this onslaught against freedom, we will lose it and never get it back.
Withdrawal from this war is a policy of surrender. What we need is a unified approach to fighting Islamic extremism by us and other allied nations. What we need is a policy that works.
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Cal Thomas' latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now.