President Bush set forth his new strategy for the war in Iraq in a nationally televised speech earlier this evening (video, transcript). He said almost everything that I wanted to hear him say (and I acknowledge that people of good will can have different opinions on this issue).
Not only did the President take responsibility for all the mistakes that have been made in this war, he also expressed his continued commitment to victory in Iraq. The President is ordering more troops to help secure areas in Baghdad once they have been cleared of insurgents and terrorists. This new strategy is clear, well-defined, time-tabled, and a marked improvement over the previous “clear-hold-leave-a-security-vacuum” approach.
Senator Dick Durbin offered the Democratic response to the President’s new strategy (video), and he opposed the increased troop levels as an escalation of a war that is no longer worth fighting. The Democratic leadership in Congress wants to withdraw U.S. troops from harm’s way to let the Iraqis take care of themselves. If the Iraqi unity-government fails at providing for its own security, then so be it. It is no longer the U.S.’s problem.
But I think that Senator Durbin is wrong about this. The situation in Iraq is the U.S.’s problem in more ways than one. Not only are the U.S.’s vital security interests at stake, but so are the claims for the morality of this war. The very justice of the cause requires that the U.S. do everything in its power to secure a just and lasting peace for a war-torn Iraq (see article on Just War). To leave the country as a cauldron of sectarian violence or as a haven for terrorists and Islamic extremists would not only be a permanent threat to U.S. security, it would also be immoral . Thus both idealists and realists have reasons to see this thing through to victory.
As a Christian, I don’t have any illusions that this war or any other will secure a permanent peace and fraternity among men. Even just wars are riddled with human weakness and error and at best (by the common grace and Providence of God) can temporarily stem the tide of some great evil.
There will only be one war to end all wars, and it will only happen when the Son of God returns in the power and glory of His Kingdom (2 Thess 1:5-10; Rev 19:11-16). That Kingdom is the ultimate hope for planet earth, even as imperfect “just wars” commence in the interim.
Until then, I will pray for those fighting and suffering in the current war in Iraq. I will also pray, Maranatha.