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Appeasement Never Works

By Ed Koch

Most newspapers have published leaked conclusions from a classified National Intelligence Estimate that said the war in Iraq is fueling a rise in global Islamic terrorism. But only one, at least in New York City, has balanced these conclusions against the contents of a letter "found in the headquarters of Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, after he was killed on June 7. The letter was sent to Zarqawi by a senior Al Qaeda leader who signs his name simply 'Atiyah.' He complains that Al Qaeda is weak both in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and in Iraq." In the letter, 'Atiyan' writes, "Know that we, like all the Mujahadin, are still weak. We are in the stage of weakness and a state of paucity. We have not yet reached a level of stability. We have no alternative but to not squander any element of the foundations of strength, or any helper or supporter." The paper carrying the article was The New York Sun.

The reason I supported President Bush's reelection two years ago was that I believed the Democratic leadership's approach on the war in Iraq was simply wrong. I said I did not think they had the resolve necessary to carry on this battle against an enemy that is willing to wage a war against us for decades to come.

While the NIE conclusions are serious and alarming, e.g., "Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion," more important in evaluating success or failure in the war should be the admissions against their interest of the enemy, especially as stated in their internal documents.

In addition, in determining whether or not to remain in Iraq and pursue the enemy there, The New York Sun points out, "...the key judgment of the declassified elements of the [NIE] document also says that winning the war in Iraq would likely reverse the recruitment effect. 'The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of the U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement,' it says. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.'"

It makes no difference in determining our current position whether we were right or wrong to go into Iraq in 2003; we are now there. To those who say, if we were wrong initially, we can never justify staying, I say, ridiculous. The enemy is worldwide Islamic terrorism, and its center today is Iraq. If we were to leave Iraq, would al-Qaeda and other groups allied with it stop their attacks on Americans? Certainly not. We were not in Iraq, nor was George W. Bush our President, when in 1993 Islamic terrorists bombed the World Trade Center killing six and injuring one thousand people; when Islamic terrorists blew up the U.S.S. Cole, killing 13 and injuring 33; when they blew up U.S. Army barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 and injuring 515; when they blew up two American embassies in Africa, causing 257 deaths and 5,000 injuries. We were not in Iraq, and Bush was the President, when Islamic terrorists hijacked and drove passenger planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, killing some 3,000 people.

The Islamic terrorists have declared their ultimate goals to include the destruction of the U.S. and the takeover of such moderate Arab states as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries. Why do we continue to refuse to believe their stated aims? They couldn't be more clear than Musab al-Zarqawi, the number one al-Qaeda operative in Iraq before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike, who stated before his death, "Killing the infidels is our religion, slaughtering them is our religion, until they convert to Islam or pay us tribute."

If we withdraw from Iraq, we would only embolden al-Qaeda and its allies. Sadly, some of our European allies have already caved to the jihadists. After Islamic terrorists blew up the Madrid commuter trains, killing 191 and injuring 1,500, Spain's government withdrew its soldiers from Iraq. England, a part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, had its subways and a bus bombed with 52 dead and 700 injured. Because Tony Blair is still Prime Minister, England has not yet succumbed to the terrorists' demands to withdraw from Iraq. However, many Laborites have demanded Blair's head and he has agreed to resign within a year. I believe that the future leaders of the Labor Party have decided they will withdraw from Iraq in order to appease the Islamic terrorists. The Conservative party, no longer led by Margaret Thatcher, a great friend of the U.S., appears headed down the same appeasement path as the New Labor Party. I hope I am in error in that conclusion. France has already flinched in the face of threats by the Iranian government, led by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and has abandoned efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring the nuclear bomb. Iran has publicly stated its intentions -- when it has the bomb. Ahmadinejad has said, Israel must be "wiped off the map," and "...God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism," according to a quote published by Iran's state news outlet.

So, to sum up, using an old boxing expression, "You can run, but you can't hide." I believe it makes no sense to run from the terrorists and wait for them to find us in Fortress America, and then seek to repel them. The battle must be taken to them in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, wherever they threaten the free world. This is without a doubt a war to defend the free world and Western civilization, just as important to our survival as World War II. Unlike the latter, which for us lasted four years, this war will go on for decades.

The war has already taken an enormous toll on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all the innocent Iraqi and Afghan civilian lives that have been lost. We cannot let the sacrifices of the fallen and the living be in vain.

How long will it be before we all awaken to the inherent danger facing us? Appeasement never works. It only encourages new and escalating demands.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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