Ed Koch: Ultimatum

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I still believe there is no greater danger facing the world today than Islamic terrorism. I also believe that—based on the information then available and the advice to the president by the CIA and its then director, George Tenet—our 2003 invasion and liberation of Iraq was justified.

Considering that even Saddam’s own generals believed Saddam had WMDs, it’s easy to understand why the CIA came to an erroneous conclusion. However, if we had known then what we know now about the lack of WMDs in Iraq, we should not have invaded.

Notwithstanding our mistake, we must not underestimate the stakes in Iraq. The terrorists and jihadists are seeking to turn Iraq into a radical Islamic state devoted to spreading terrorism and providing sanctuary for those bent on destroying Western civilization. If they could, they would join with Iran to build what they hope would be an invincible army dominating, first the Persian Gulf area starting at the Mediterranean Sea and later encompassing all of central Asia. As journalist Abdel Rahman al-Rashed said, “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”

I have no doubt that the war against Islamic terrorism will continue for generations to come and that we will be compelled to fight that war in our homeland as the jihadists follow us across the seas to attack us here, as they already have. If the United States, on its own, could defeat the terrorists and their goals by waging the battle now ongoing in Iraq, as President Bush believes we can, I would support that effort. But I, like most Americans, have concluded that we cannot do it alone. The casualties and cost are too great. I believe that unless we are joined by a significant number of our allies who would provide combat troops and share in the costs of war, we should leave Iraq.

I urge the President to issue an ultimatum to both regional—Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, the Gulf States—and our 25 NATO allies that, unless a significant number agree within 30 days to share in the burdens of the war in Iraq, we will begin immediately to withdraw. At the same time, we should require the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, to call a special session of the Iraqi legislature to vote on a resolution stating their request of the U.S. and others to remain in Iraq, specifying the rules of engagement and the goals sought by the Iraqi government and its allies. If the Iraqi government fails to do so within 30 days, then irrespective of the actions taken by our allies, we should leave. Americans and most of the people of the Western world appear not to know that the United Nations Security Council has approved of the U.S. waging war in support of the Iraqi government.

A significant number of our allies may respond affirmatively to our ultimatum, recognizing that they have more to lose than we do when Iraqis seeking relief from the ongoing civil war start to stream across the borders of the neighboring states by the millions, bringing with them jihadists and terrorists and their suicide bombers. I recognize, however, that there is a greater likelihood that our allies will not respond affirmatively in significant numbers. That is particularly true with respect to our allies in NATO that have lost their will to stand and defend their values, as Great Britain discovered recently when it sought support from the members of the European Union for a United Nations resolution demanding that Iran immediately free the British marines taken hostage.

Great Britain found it had no support from its allies for clear, strong language. The Security Council instead issued a watered-down statement simply expressing “grave concern” over Iran’s actions. The will to live without fear no longer exists in Europe. The raison d’etre for NATO’s existence—an attack upon one, is an attack upon all—no longer governs that alliance. In the Iraq war, the U.S. has received the same response from NATO, excepting Great Britain and a few other small nations. Now, Great Britain will be leaving Iraq, as have most of our other allies.

For all practical purposes, NATO is dead. Its last achievement was stopping the Russian juggernaut and ultimately bringing down the Soviet Union. Europe, now believing it cannot prevent being overwhelmed by the Islamic tide, apparently prefers to accept it.

If on receiving the ultimatum, our allies recognize that they risk losing the future protection of the United States and its armed forces, which saved them from both German and Soviet occupation and protected them for so many years, they may have an epiphany.

No harm in trying. But there can be no bluffing on our part. Either they come in, or we get out.

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