Victory Is a Values Issue

The Left has always had an erratic relationship with the truth.  And in a week that witnessed the launch of a despicable smear campaign against America’s top commander in Iraq, the Left’s reactions to General Petraeus’s progress report on Iraq highlight the ever-deepening gulf that separates the anti-war Left from the rest of America. 

The Left’s rhetorical attacks began even before General Petraeus reported to Congress that U.S. forces have made "substantial progress" in Iraq. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called Petraeus a liar, saying, "He [Petraeus] has made a number of statements over the years that have not proved to be factual."  Senator Dianne Feinstein
questioned whether or not Gen. Petraeus could offer an unbiased account, and Senator Dick Durbin accused Petraeus, whom each of the aforementioned senators voted to confirm just seven months ago, of "carefully manipulating the statistics" to convince the public "that violence in Iraq is decreasing and thus the surge is working." 

These statements were mild compared to those of, which bought a full-page ad in the New York Times personally attacking the general with the infantile and now infamous headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" It went on to accuse the general of "cooking the books for the White House."  

Let’s be clear: has every right to place an ad in a newspaper opposing the war and challenging America’s military leaders. It does not, however, serve our public discourse to make slanderous and libelous claims against our military leaders.  Here’s a man who has devoted his entire adult life to defending his country with valor and distinction, serving in our Armed Forces for more than 35 years, including commanding the 101st Airborne Division. Yet his honesty and integrity are being dragged through the mud by politicians and a radical leftwing group that has the audacity to call him a liar and accuse him of betraying our country. 

Though reprehensible,’s vicious personal attacks are nothing new for the fringe Left, which has turned character assassination into political performance art.  What’s been far worse has been the silence of Democratic Party leaders.  While some Democratic congressmen denounced the ad as "offensive," "vicious" and "inappropriate," a resolution to condemn the ad was tabled by Senate Democrats on Wednesday. And not one of the leading Democratic candidates for president rebuked, proving once again how beholden Democrats have become to their anti-war fringe, the party’s primary source of passion and money.  

But while the anti-war Left makes all the noise, the silent majority embr aces a more reasoned approach.  According to a newly released CBS / New York Times poll, when asked whom they most trusted to resolve the war in Iraq, "68 percent expressed most trust in military commanders," while 21% of the public chose the Congress. Numerous other polls confirm that while a majority of Americans want the troops brought home, most
oppose doing so abruptly.  And a just-released Zogby poll finds more than twice as many Americans (41 percent) want the military to stay focused on Iraq than think capturing Osama bin Laden should take priority (19 percent).  

It is this forgotten majority of Americans that’s represented by a diverse new coalition of over 40 conservative leaders who have come together to remind public policy makers and fellow citizens what’s at stake in Iraq.  The Forgotten American Coalition, of which I am
chairman, released an open letter to the American people this week, entitled , "The Tragic Consequences of A U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq." In the letter we urge our fellow Americans to view the Iraq War in the broader context of Islamo-fascism’s war on America and Western Civilization.  

We remind the public of the tragic consequences of a premature withdrawal, including the destabilization of the Middle East, the endangerment of Israel-America’s only reliable ally in the region-and the emboldenment and empowerment of Iran and Syria, two legs of the axis of evil.  As the letter states, "9-11 was in part precipitated by the perception of American weakness and lack of determination.  An Iraq withdrawal before our mission is accomplished will convince the terrorists and their state-sponsors that we indeed are the proverbial paper tiger."

What’s most striking about the Forgotten American Coalition is the involvement of dozens of religious and family values leaders. Historically, values orga nizations have been reluctant to engage in foreign policy.  But six years into a struggle that has reshaped
understandings of the relationship between war and duty, our unique coalition reaffirms a fundamental insight: Victory is a values issue. We believe defeat at the hands of an ideology that worships death would be immoral.

Values voters increasingly believe that a hasty U.S. withdrawal would guarantee that those Iraqis who supported our presence would be subjected to vicious reprisals by fanatics who have repeatedly demonstrated their ruthlessness.  And they ask themselves:  If a
premature drawdown would produce, as Senator McCain said in his opening statement before the Armed Services Committee Hearing with General Petraeus "chaos, wider war and genocide," how can we remain quiet?  

Values voters also recognize that the battle against Islamic extremism, with Iraq as its central front, and their decad es-long battle against materialism and cultural relativism are in fact two fronts in the same war for our survival.  More and more social and religious conservatives believe America’s moral deterioration has made us more vulnerable to
terrorist attacks, and that it is only through a renewed commitment to faith, family and freedom that victory can be achieved.  In a very real sense, victory in Iraq is inextricably linked not only with victory in the larger war on terror but also with our ability to protect our cherished values at home.  

The social conservative movement has been built upon hope-hope that we can restore protection to innocent unborn children, hope that we can preserve marriage between a man and a woman and the hope that ultimately, at a time of war, the defeatism of America’s leftist elites.