Once again we have been warned by President George W. Bush that failure in Iraq would be “grievous and far-reaching.” I have not counted the times he has used fear to get the public’s attention.

Tuesday in the annual State of the Union address he reminded us that the war he got us into will get worse if we leave Iraq now.

His new plan, which looks much like the one that has been failing for over a year, has little chance for success now. When he says “America must not fail,” he is really saying that his presidency must not fail!

He is so low in opinion polls that he is grasping at straws. (Recent polls suggest only one-in-three voters approve of the job the president is doing–making him more unpopular than any other president in the last 50 years, except Richard Nixon just before he resigned.)

He continues to confuse his invasion of Iraq with “The War on Terror.” They are not the same. He describes his war on terror as a “generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others.”

This sad fact could come true, for the extreme Islamists have done it before and can do it again. A mere 100 years after the death of Muhammad the Prophet, the Arabs sacked the Vatican in Rome.

This confrontation with radical Islam will not go away, even after our soldiers are no longer in the land of Cyrus and Alexander the Great. A fuse was lit when our troops invaded Iraq, and the world has been bursting on a scale seldom seen in history.

Even the most simple glance at history would have told our leaders this is a no-go. This has been tried by the British and French. Even though the Turks ruled them for centuries, they too lost to the Arabs.

Many are the books about the culture of the Middle East. (It is not the Middle East to the people there–that is a tag Europeans put on it–because it was “east” of England and Europe.)

Bush and all the experts he listened to got us where we are today. It is the most tragic way to begin the 21st century. And apparently, Bush will continue to push his problems off on this Congress and the next president.

I was told as a little boy that if I start something, I must finish it. I did not learn the lesson easily. It is difficult to complete something you are sorry you started. Apparently, Barbara Bush did not make that simple truth plain to George W. Bush. This is not the first time he has admitted his successor will have to clean up this mess.

No matter when we leave Iraq, there will be war between the tribes. It has been so since Muhammad died in the year 634. His followers could not agree on who should lead. So the Sunnis and Shias have fought ever since about who is a real Muslim. They will not stop even if we stay there a hundred years. Or leave next week.

Britt Towery is a retired Baptist missionary who lives in Texas.

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