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Stay the course. Set a timeline. What should we do in Iraq?

Well, the first thing I think we have to recognize about Iraq is the current uptick in violence. The chaos Lindsey Graham speaks about is getting worse and worse as we get closer and closer to what? To Election Day here in America, that's what.

The Iraqis who want us out aren't stupid. They read the papers, too, and they know an election is coming and they do not want Bush and his Republicans to win. They are the "stay the course" crowd, and staying the course is not what insurgents want in Iraq. Insurgents want America to leave.

The shortest route to that outcome is the election two weeks from today.

If Democrats who hate Bush and hate the war win, the insurgents win. America will set a date to get out, and jihad will have carried the day.

It will mean the Great Satan will have been defeated and another ignominious defeat will have been brought into America's living rooms for all the world to see.

It will say to people living under tyrants in the Middle East: Settle down, there's not going to be any change here because the agent of change, America, has been beaten.

It will say to Islamists: Hey, jihad is on the march. The infidel is losing. You are winning. Be on the winning side. America, democracy, capitalism, a good life in an oil-rich Iraq, all that is loser talk. Get your nose in that Koran and learn the jihad parts especially well.

Should Americans hold Bush and the Republicans to account for the conduct of the war? Sure.

But let's not be confused about the reason for the mindless murder and violence in Iraq right now. Sure the Shia want to kill the Sunni and vice versa, and certainly there have been revenge killings galore over there for a few weeks now. But something else is at work here.

People over there have seen the America pre-election debate and they have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the onrushing train of Republican defeat. That is their light and it's getting closer and closer for them everyday.

Two weeks and maybe they will know exactly when the hated Americans are going to leave, to vamoose, to beat feet, to cut and run.

That's My Word.

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