Saturday, December 03, 2005

V. D. Hanson on Iraq

The best thing about Friday is Victor Davis Hanson publishes a new essay. Here is his take on America in Iraq. I'll cherry pick ...

December 02, 2005
A Moral War
The project in Iraq can succeed, and leave its critics scrambling.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

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.

* * * *

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.

* * * *

Saddam’s trial will remind the world of his butchery. Despite all the ankle-biting by human-rights groups about proper jurisprudence, the Iraqis will try him and convict him much more quickly than the Europeans will do the same to Milosevic (not to mention the other killers still loose like Gen. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic), posing the question: What is the real morality — trying a mass murderer and having him pay for his crimes, or engaging in legal niceties for years while the ghosts of his victims cry for justice?

More importantly, we can also calibrate our progress by examining the perceived self-interest of the various players, here and abroad.

The Sunnis — no oil, a minority population, increasing disgust with Zarqawi, a shameful past under Saddam — will participate in the December elections in large numbers. They now have no choice other than either to be perpetual renegades and terrorists inside their own country or to gain world respect by turning to democracy. The election train is leaving in December and this time they won’t be left at the station.

Zarqawi and the radical Islamicists are slowly being squeezed as only a war at their doorstep could accomplish. Critics of Iraq should ask if we were not fighting Zarqawi in Iraq, where exactly would we be fighting Islamic fascists — or would the war against terror be declared over, won, lost, dormant, or ongoing, with the U.S. simply playing defense?

Instead, what Iraq did is ensure that al Qaeda’s Sunni support is being coopted by democracy. Jordan, the terrorists’ old ace in the hole that could always put a cosmetic face on its stealthy support for radicals, has essentially turned on Zarqawi and with him al Qaeda. Syria is under virtual siege and its border sanctuary now a killing zone. Bin Laden can offer very little solace from his cave. And somehow Islamists have alienated the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, and increasingly Middle East democracies like those in Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq, and reform movements in Lebanon and Jordan.

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.

Kurds and Shiites support us for obvious reasons — no other government on the planet would risk its sons and daughters to give them the right of one man/one vote. They may talk the necessary talk about infidels, but they know we will leave anytime they so vote. After the December election, expect them — and perhaps the Sunnis as well — quietly to ask us to stay to see things through.

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.

* * * *

George Bush may well go down in history as a less-effective leader than his father or Bill Clinton; but unlike either, he may also have a real chance to be remembered in that select class of rare presidents whom history records as having saved this country at a time of national peril and in the face of unprecedented criticism. Bush’s domestic agenda hinges on Iraq: If he withdraws now, his proposals on taxes, social security, deficit reduction, education, and immigration are dead. If he sees the Iraq project through, these now-iffy initiatives will piggyback on the groundswell of popular thanks he will receive for reforming the Middle East.

Strangely, I doubt whether very many would agree with much of anything stated above — at least for now. But 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?

Italics Mine

2 Comments:

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Newsandseduction said...

May i ask why you stopped following the mainstream media?

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Blair said...

It’s a credibility issue; I don’t think they have any. Any story I’ve read where I’ve had first hand knowledge, has always been totally off base.

Dan Rather’s attempt to damage Bush in the last election was a low water mark for the mainstream guys, one that tipped their hand. The quagmiresque nature of their reporting on Iraq, Indonesia or Louisiana were less than helpful, more like bad movie reviews where you end up learning more about the reviewers tastes than the movie.

What it amounts to is, I don’t trust the interpreters any more and with the Internet, I no longer have to. I can read an essay from a guy who fixed IBM typewriters in the seventies that simply ends the memo ‘story’ in its tracks. Period.

I know an Iraqi woman who knew what life under Sadam was like. She is thrilled by the changes going on. When I lived in Toronto I frequented a little place on the Danny where the two guys who made the pizzas would cheer and high-five each other whenever the TV would show a fighter taking off from a carrier. They were from Afghanistan. From my limited exposure, those most affected by the situation in Iraq favour the U.S. presence.

I know a few people in the news business in Toronto; perhaps it's like magic, once you know how the tricks are done they no longer impress you.

Information is like food, after it’s been processed down to the ‘pop’ level of mass media there is no nutritional value left, so I try to consume as much of it as I can in raw form.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home