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December 27, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Sixty years ago on December 20, 1946, the timeless Frank Capra Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" had its premier at the Globe Theater in New York City.

Perhaps even more meaningful today than it ever was before, the fable-allegory stars James Stewart as a man, George Bailey, who is down on his luck and wishes he had never lived. Full of despair, he decides to jump off a bridge.

The opening scene of the movie is Christmas Eve and Mr. Bailey and his bank, Bailey Building & Loan, are facing social and financial ruin as a result of the nefarious actions of the town despot, Mr. Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore.

Henry Travers plays the part of an angel, Clarence, who materializes just in the nick of time to show Mr. Bailey what the world would've been like if he had never been born.

Meanwhile, in the contemporary theatre of the globe, on March 19, 2003, a year-and-a-half after September 11, President George W. Bush took to the airwaves to tell our nation: "My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger."

Long forgotten were the words in his address, the "campaign . could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment."

Several years later our nation's resolve and commitment has faltered and - increasingly - those who wish to change reality with the force of their reason and who would have us "declare victory" and leave the unfinished conflict behind.

Analogous to not taking a full course of antibiotics, to leave now will only create a more virulent and stronger strain of terrorism.

In the elections last month the Democrats gained control of Congress based on populism, politically expedient criticism and pithy sketches of a plan.

Words like 'talk with Iran and Syria' come to mind. And what - for pity sake - will we talk with them about? Isn't this tantamount to asking the Chinese and the Soviets to lend us a hand in stopping the violence in Vietnam in the late 1960s?

One can only imagine the dialogue now. "Oh, pretty please, stop meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq?"

Iran has no interest in a stable and democratic Iraq and will stop at nothing to see to it that the country never emerges in any position to threaten it again as it did a number of years ago in a protracted and horrific war.

Syria? Well Syria is just Syria and only the Good Lord and their friends, the French, know what Syria wants - except to not have to share a border with a free and economically vibrant Iraq.

Along comes the "Iraq Study Group's" report. To sum up the report in as few words as possible, it says that all is lost and we ought to just jump off the bridge.

About the only thing the report missed was a suggestion that we bring the proud Iowa-class USS Missouri out of mothballs to hold the surrender ceremony in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Maybe Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, California Representative Nancy Pelosi and now - New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - could head up our surrender party. The folks from that absurd television program, "The View," could stand in as witnesses?

Senator Clinton could put a grand finale on the event by announcing her candidacy for the presidency with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, at her side.

So, where does this leave us now?

Fair question. Perhaps, just like George Bailey; before we collectively jump off the bridge, we may want to consider where we would be if we had not undertaken addressing the threat to world stability Saddam Hussein represented. And where we will be if the prophets of political populism have their way?

To leave Iraq now to the forces of the battling Shiites and Sunnis will doom Iraq to a profound bloodbath. Ultimately the country will either divide into three parts, Shiites, Sunni and Kurd - or it will be re-unified by an Islamo-facist.

With lessoned clout, integrity and a demonstrated reputation for not being reliable -cutting and running when the going gets rough - the United States will not be a in a position to aggressively address the North Korean or Iranian nuclear challenges. The future of Israel will be imperiled and the much of the world's oil supplies will be threatened with disruption; negatively impacting the world's economy.

Without a credible U.S. support for Taiwan, its future will also be in danger and Japan will have to re-arm to protect itself.

Gee, maybe the French will step up to the plate? Ah, maybe not. Odds are their next president will be a socialist more populist-oriented than Senator Clinton, but arguably no more socialist. Madame Segolene Royal is more rock-star than Barack Obama. At 52-years-old and the mother of four, at least she's not an over-aged teenager.

Germany has so many internal problems, it can't see past its own borders, unless they can myopically make money in the Middle East, like they were trying in Iraq, before the U.S. interrupted their party.

Only the Good Lord knows who (or what) will replace British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Russia - Oy Veh!

Folks, we're on a bridge and stuck holding the bag. Whether we jump off the bridge will depend on whether or not there are any angels on the horizon in 2007.

One thing for sure, the longer we stand on the bridge, the more there is the possibility that the forces who wish us harm have the opportunity to make our decisions for us and bring the bridge down around us.

And, oh, one more thing; Happy New Year - I think.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:

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