Both the Democrats and Republicans are wrong about what to do now in the Iraq war. The Democrats want to retreat immediately and the Republicans want to “stay the course.” Neither proposal will make America safe from Islamic terrorism.

As Republicans have noted, withdrawal at this time would be perceived by the Islamic fundamentalists as a major defeat of the West and draw more recruits to their cause. But as the Democrats have noted, staying our current course–which has no standard of victory and no clear connection to protecting America from Islamic terrorism–is a disaster that has already resulted in the death of two thousand Americans.

The solution is neither embracing defeat nor staying a losing course; the solution is to pursue victory.

We must define war objectives designed solely to protect the American people from Islamic terrorism, and then execute those objectives by any means necessary. Above all, we must make it our objective, not to bring the good life to every corner of the Middle East, but to make the terrorist states of the Middle East non-threatening–which means that we must end state sponsorship of terrorism.

In Iraq, we must crush the insurgency immediately–which includes choking its backers, Iran and Syria–and let the Iraqis themselves take on the responsibility of establishing a government that will not threaten America. Once the insurgency is crushed the priority should be on eliminating the regime that is the greatest terrorist and nuclear threat to the United States in the Middle East: Iran. Such a policy would serve as a death blow to bin Laden, al-Zarqawi and the rest of the fundamentalists, who attract their recruits with the hope that America can slowly be defeated.

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