Any Credit for Iraq Should Go to George Bush

Monday, 30 Aug 2010 04:10 PM

By Lowell Ponte

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Tuesday night President Barack Obama addresses the nation about Iraq, having just re-labeled 50,000 remaining combat troops as "peacekeeping" and "training" forces.

Many expect this to be Obama's "Mission Accomplished" speech.

Although Obama stridently opposed his predecessor's Iraq incursion in ways that undermined the morale of our troops and encouraged Islamist radicals, he now is expected to take credit as a brave, decisive military leader merely for following draw-down policies President George W. Bush long ago put in place.

Everything that has gone badly in Iraq will continue to be blamed on Bush — the Democrats' all-purpose scapegoat for Obama's many failures — but Obama will claim credit for all Iraq successes.

At the dawn of the Bush pre-emption doctrine, this column argued that we were playing "Big Casino" in Iraq. President Bush could see that old-fashioned dictatorial regimes in the Middle East were fragile and would be toppling sooner rather than later.

The only uncertainty was whether these countries would become democracies or be taken over by Islamists and turned into anti-American Iran-like theocracies.

President Bush's long-shot gamble was that we could remake Iraq into an exemplary viable democracy. Iraq has survived a second election — a crucial test in the Third World where democracy has usually meant "one person, one vote, one time."

Some will be looking at a larger question standing, probably unmentioned, behind President Obama on Tuesday night. This is Iran and why Obama seems not to be lifting a finger to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Perhaps Obama will surprise us all with a President Ronald Reagan-like announcement that "the bombing starts in five minutes" as he pre-emptively practices in Iran what my old national defense mentor and boss Dr. William Van Cleave called "assertive disarmament."

President Obama will need such a bold, unexpected October surprise to have any hope of saving Democrat lawmakers from the risk of losing their one-party rule in November's elections.

And other unmentioned issues will lurk behind Obama on Tuesday night, too.

In recent days the Internet has been abuzz with an Aug. 26 Canadian Free Press article by Dr. Laurie Roth that says the U.S. State Department "is using undisclosed amounts of U.S. tax dollars to build and renovate Islamic Mosques in 27 different countries."

Two days earlier The Associated Press reported that "This year, the Obama administration will spend nearly $6 million to restore 63 historic and cultural sites, including mosques and minarets, in 55 nations, according to State Department documents."

These "contributions," reported AP, are being made as part of a program "to reach out to the Muslim world."

President Obama is spending your hard-earned, hard-lost tax dollars in these hard economic times thusly: "$76,135 for the 16th Century Grand Mosque in Tongxin, China, and $67,500 for the 18th Century Golden Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.

"An additional $62,169 will be spent on restoring a 19th Century minaret [for Muslim calls to prayer] in Mauritania's ancient city of Tichitt," AP continues, as well as "$50,437 for the Sundarwala Burj, a 16th Century Islamic Monument in New Delhi, and $15,450 to restore the 18th Century Gobarau Minaret in Katsina, Nigeria."

Obama is thus using the taxes of American dollars to fund Islamic holy places.

Where are the liberals who demand separation of church and state when even a penny of tax money or public property is used for anything Christian?

In his 1786 Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "[T]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical."

Mr. President, stop raising our taxes to bankroll mosques.

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