November 18, 2005
Cutting Through The Crap
Ladies and Gentlemen, the superb Victor Davis Hanson:
[W]hat then is really at the heart of the current strange congressional hysteria?
Simple — the tragic loss of nearly 2,100 Americans in Iraq.
The "my perfect war, your messy postbellum reconstruction" crowd is now huge and unapologetic. It encompasses not just leftists who once jumped on the war bandwagon in fears that Democrats would be tarred as weak on national security (a legitimate worry), but also many saber-rattling conservatives and Republicans — including those (the most shameful of all) who had in earlier times both sent letters to President Clinton and Bush demanding the removal of Saddam and now damn their commander-in-chief for taking them at their own word.
In the triumphalism after seeing Milosevic go down without a single American death, the Taliban implode at very little cost, and Saddam removed from power with little more than 100 fatalities, there was the assumption that the United States could simply nod and dictators would quail and democracy would follow. Had we lost 100 in birthing democracy and not 2,000, or seen purple fingers only and not IEDs on Dan Rather's nightly broadcasts, today's critics would be arguing over who first thought up the idea of removing Saddam and implementing democratic changes.
So without our 2,100 losses, nearly all the present critics would be either silent or grandstanding their support — in the manner that three quarters of the American population who polled that they were in favor of the war once they saw the statue of Saddam fall.
In short, there is no issue of WMD other than finding out why our intelligence people who had once missed it in the First Gulf War, then hyped it in the next-or what actually happened to all the unaccounted for vials and stockpiles that the U.N. inspectors swore were once inside Iraq.
So the real crux is a real legitimate debate over whether our ongoing costs-billions spent, thousands wounded, nearly 2,100 American soldiers lost-will be worth the results achieved. Post facto, no death seems "worth it". The premature end of life is tangible and horrendous in a way that the object of such soldiers' sacrifices-a reformed Middle East, a safer world, enhanced American safety, and freedom for 26 million-seems remote and abstract.
Nevertheless, that is what our soldiers died for: a world in which Middle East dictators no longer murder their own, ruin their won societies, and then cynically use terrorism to whip up the Arab street and deflect their own self-induced miseries onto the United States. This is the calculus that led to 9/11, and the reason why Saddam gave sanctuary to 1980s terrorists, the killer Yasin who failed in his first attempt to take down the twin towers, and the likes of Zarqawi.
Go and read the rest.
UPDATE: I will say this for Rep. John Murtha - he, at least, seems to be arguing for a pull out in Iraq on the basis of his belief that the war is "unwinnable", a judgement more in line with VDH's analysis than the "we wuz duped" garbage coming out of people like Reid and Rockefeller. In that respect, he is being comparatively honest.
As a matter of fact, I think all the kerfuffle over Murtha may do the Donks more harm than good. Arguing that we should bug out because we can't win tags them as the French Party, the "Surrender First" Party, the "Run Awaaaaay!!!" Party, something they've been trying to avoid since the beginning, as VDH notes. Plus, if Dr. Rusty, Gary and the Colossus are any kind of guide, his remarks are infuriating and galvanizing the pro-war side.
Is there no end to Karl Rove's list of sleeper agents?
Let me be clear: some Democrats — Joe Lieberman springs to mind — supported the war for the right reasons, and continue to do so. Others — Ted Kennedy, Russell Feingold — opposed it all along. But most of those now recanting made a straight political calculation in voting to authorise force in the first place.
These were the ambitious Democrats who thought they had learnt the lessons of 1991. Then you may recall, the vast majority of the party’s senators voted against the first Iraq war. The arguments then were not about right but might, or America’s perceived lack of it. There was talk of hundreds of thousands of body bags. Most of the Democrats, fearing the country was still in the grip of Vietnam syndrome, wanted nothing to do with it. They wanted to be able to say afterwards “ We told you so”, and to reap the political rewards.
In the eventfewer than 200 Americans died, and all those Democrats who had voted against the war were suddenly political carrion. So, confronted with a similar choice in October 2002, they did not want to be on the losing side again. If it was another cakewalk, and they had voted against it, the damage to their credibility as presidential candidates would be irreparable. Best to vote for it to burnish their national security credentials.
But it wasn’t a cakewalk. And now they’re trapped. So they resort to the defence of the coward throughout history: “He made me do it.” Most Americans have better memories.
Christ, I hope so.Posted by Robert at November 18, 2005 09:29 AM | TrackBack