Victor Davis Hanson: On the moral nature of the Iraq War, its prospects for success, and inciseful factual information about war support....
As usual, Hanson has cut through all the clutter out there in the ether about the Iraq War, which is the major front in the war against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and provided a very clear and factual big picture. He pulls together relevant component parts that present the true overall story about what actually has been and is going on.... and accurately characterizes it as a "moral war."
Some excerpts are below. This is a fairly long piece, but well worth your time to read it.... if you wish to be well-informed and armed with incisive knowledge on this topic to prepare yourselves for encounters with anti-war liberal elites at holiday parties and on the political front in the runup to the 2006 elections.
"A Moral War: The project in Iraq can succeed, and leave its critics scrambling."
"Almost everything that is now written about Iraq rings not quite right: It was a “blunder”; there should have been far more troops there; the country must be trisected; we must abide by a timetable and leave regardless of events on the ground; Iraq will soon devolve into either an Islamic republic or another dictatorship; the U.S. military is enervated and nearly ruined; and so on.
In fact, precisely because we have killed thousands of terrorists, trained an army, and ensured a political process, it is possible to do what was intended from the very beginning: lessen the footprint of American troops in the heart of the ancient caliphate.
Save for a few courageous Democrats, like Senator Joe Lieberman, who look at things empirically rather than ideologically, and some stalwart Republicans, most politicians and public intellectuals have long bailed on the enterprise.
This is now what comprises statesmanship: Some renounce their earlier support for the war. Others, less imaginative, in Clintonian (his and hers) fashion, take credit for backing the miraculous victory of spring 2003, but in hindsight, of course, blame the bloody peace on Bush. Or, better yet, they praise Congressman Murtha to the skies, but under no circumstances go on record urging the military to follow his advice.
How strange that journalists pontificate post facto about all the mistakes that they think have been made, nevertheless conceding that here we are on the verge of a third and final successful election.
No mention, of course, is ever made about the current sorry state of journalistic ethics and incompetence (cf. Jayson Blair, Judy Miller, Michael Isikoff, Bob Woodward, Eason Jordan). A group of professionals, after all, who cannot even be professional in their own sphere, surely have no credibility in lecturing the U.S. military about what they think went wrong in Iraq.
Of course, the White House, as is true in all wars, has made mistakes, but only one critical lapse — and it is not the Herculean effort to establish a consensual government at the nexus of the Middle East in less than three years after removing Saddam Hussein.
The administration’s lapse, rather, has come in its failure to present the entire war effort in its proper moral context.
We took no oil — the price in fact skyrocketed after we invaded Iraq. We did not do Israel’s bidding; in fact, it left Gaza after we went into Iraq and elections followed on the West Bank. We did not want perpetual hegemony — in fact, we got out of Saudi Arabia, used the minimum amount of troops possible, and will leave Iraq anytime its consensual government so decrees.
And we did not expropriate Arab resources, but, in fact, poured billions of dollars into Iraq to jumpstart its new consensual government in the greatest foreign aid infusion of the age.
In short, every day the American people should have been reminded of, and congratulated on, their country’s singular idealism, its tireless effort to reject the cynical realism of the past, and its near lone effort to make terrible sacrifices to offer the dispossessed Shia and Kurds something better than the exploitation and near genocide of the past — and how all that alone will enhance the long-term security of the United States.
That goal was what the U.S. military ended up so brilliantly fighting for — and what the American public rarely heard. The moral onus should have always been on the critics of the war. They should have been forced to explain why it was wrong to remove a fascist mass murderer, why it was wrong to stay rather than letting the country sink into Lebanon-like chaos, and why it was wrong not to abandon brave women, Kurds, and Shia who only wished for the chance of freedom.
Alas, that message we rarely heard until only recently, and the result has energized amoral leftists, who now pose as moralists by either misrepresenting the cause of the war, undermining the effort of soldiers in the field, or patronizing Iraqis as not yet civilized enough for their own consensual government...."
Decision day is coming when Zarqawi’s bombers will have to choose either to die, or, like a Nathan Bedford Forrest (“I’m a goin’ home”), quit to join the reform-seeking majority. That progress was accomplished only by the war in Iraq, and without it we would be back to playing a waiting game for another 9/11, while an autocratic Middle East went on quietly helping terrorists without consequences, either afraid of Saddam or secretly enjoying his chauvinist defiance....
Europe is quiet now. Madrid, London, Paris, and Amsterdam have taught Europeans that it is not George Bush but Islamic fascism that threatens their very existence. Worse still, they rightly fear they have lost the good will of the United States that so generously subsidized their defense — an entitlement perhaps to be sneered at during the post-Cold War “end of history,” but not in a new global war against Islamic terrorists keen to acquire deadly weapons.
Our military realizes that it can trump its brilliant victories in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein by birthing democracy in Iraq — or risk losing that impressive reputation by having a new Lebanon blow up in its face. China, Japan, India, Russia, Korea, Iran, and other key countries are all watching Iraq — ready to calibrate American deterrence by the efficacy of the U.S. military in the Sunni Triangle.
Our armed forces have already accomplished what the British and the Soviets could never do in Afghanistan; what the Russians failed to accomplish in Chechnya; and what we came so close to finishing in Vietnam. They won’t falter now when they are so close to winning an almost impossibly difficult war, one that will be recognized by friends and enemies as beyond the capability of any other military in the world.
The Left now risks losing its self-proclaimed moral appeal. It had trashed the efforts in Iraq for months on end, demanded a withdrawal — only recently to learn from polls that an unhappy public may also be unhappy with it for advocating fleeing while American soldiers are in harm’s way....
The administration realizes that as long as it stays the course and our military remains confident we can win, we will — despite defections in the Congress, venom in the press, and cyclical lows in the polls. In practical political terms, only the administration, not the Congress or the courts, can choose to cease our efforts in Iraq....
....if the administration can emphasize the moral nature of this war, and the military can continue its underappreciated, but mostly successful efforts to defeat the enemy.... and give the Iraqis a few more months of breathing space, who knows what the current opportunists and pessimists will say by summer. Will they say that they in fact were always sorta, kinda, really for removing Saddam and even staying on to see democracy work in Iraq....?"