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Decision Brief     No. 05-D 39                                        2005-08-15

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of a fallen soldier, Casey Sheehan, a man who volunteered to serve his country and gave his life so that people in Iraq might have a government that did not threaten them, and us. As such, she is entitled to our sympathy and gratitude.

Emboldening the Enemy

Unfortunately, she has lately become something else: the poster child for surrender. With her decision to camp out near President Bush’s home in Crawford, Texas for the purpose of demanding an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Ms. Sheehan has morphed into a pawn in the hands of partisans who are indifferent to whether the United States is defeated on the central front in this global war – as long as Mr. Bush, his administration and party are laid low.

The media circus that has surrounded and amplified every one of Ms. Sheehan’s increasingly strident rhetorical outbursts (she says she won’t pay taxes until she gets her son back and wants the President impeached on war crimes) may, by so doing, have filled a void in their August doldrums programming. Their 24/7 coverage of Casey Sheehan’s mom has done something else, however: Together with polls showing flagging support for the President, it has given further encouragement to the conviction of our Islamofascist enemies that, as they expected, an indolent and self-indulgent United States cannot stand up to determined, ruthless foes.

That perception can only have one effect: To put an even bigger premium on the lives of every one of Casey’s comrades in Iraq and elsewhere, and to foreclose the outcomes for which he and the other fallen gave their lives. Even before his mom became a spectacle, the Islamists were hopeful that – as in Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1994 – killing enough American troops would make the rest of them withdraw ignominiously. Handing the U.S. such defeats enhances the claims to leadership and power of those responsible for driving them out, effectively eliminating alternatives that may have been more sympathetic to Western values and interests.

Watch this Space in Gaza

A test case is underway at this writing. Israel is in the process of forcibly removing settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank that will be turned over to Palestinian control. Already, the Islamofascists of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and factions of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement are claiming their terrorism forced the Israelis to “disengage.” The perpetrators of such terror are sure to dominate the emerging Palestinian state, even as they insist that they will continue their violent intifada until the “occupation” of the rest of “Palestine” is accomplished through the complete destruction of Israel.

Does anyone really believe that, having rewarded the terrorists, there will be less terror against Israel in the future? Common sense tells us that, as the Palestinians obtain billions in financing from the West, arms (at American insistence) from Israel, unimpeded and unmonitored use of a seaport, airport and land border with Egypt, the capacity of Israel’s enemies to increase the number and lethality of their attacks on the Jewish State from behind internationally recognized boundaries will only grow.

Cut-and-Run…to Where?

It is inconceivable that we would fare better were the United States and its coalition partners in Iraq to yield to the demands of the Surrender-Now crowd. Iraq would become at best a new safe-haven for terrorism against the West, at worst, a renewed state-sponsor of such terror. The promise of an Iraqi partner in this war would be squandered, the best hope of encouraging the emergence in the Mideast of moderate, peaceable and prosperous states foreclosed, America’s enemies emboldened and her friends forced to reconsider their allegiance to us.

Worst of all, at least from the perspective of their loved ones, the sacrifice made by people like Casey Sheehan would be for naught. Yet his mom insists, “You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you’ll stop the terrorism.”

Ms. Sheehan is entitled to her pain and anger. She is, of course, entitled to express them appropriately, as well. But her loss of a son does not give her particular standing with respect to analyzing the nature of this conflict or the consequences of abandoning the fight.

The truth of the matter is that the foes who wield terror against us are not animated by grievances, real or perceived, as much as they are by a totalitarian political ideology. Its stated goal is to impose a global caliphate under a Taliban-like religious code. Withdrawal under fire – surrender by any other name – will not “stop the terror.” It will simply ensure that there is more of it here, enroute to subjecting the United States and every other nation to the Islamofascists’ dominance and Shari’a.

The Bottom Line

One suspects that Casey Sheehan understood these stakes, at least intuitively, as do most (if not all) of his comrades-in-arms. They are bravely confronting an evil in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world so as to spare other parents the losses that are sure to flow from capitulating there, only to have to fight it here.

One hundred and forty-three years ago next month, the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought at Antietam, Maryland. From the perspective of the more than twenty-thousand mothers who lost sons that day, their sacrifice must have been no less wrenching or hard to justify than was Ms. Sheehan’s. Had Abraham Lincoln given up at that point, however, the Nation would have been divided, slavery perpetuated and the prospects for freedom in the world made far more grim. Now, as then, we must stay the course.


Frank Gaffney, Jr.
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