Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lessons from the fall of Iraq

Published 4/18/03 at the Duke Chronicle

Iraqis' jubilation at the end of Saddam's reign holds lessons for all. It's time to demolish the petulant idiocies of the anti-American crowd:

1) Freedom must be achieved by those who seek it: Freedom is a precious gift but not one that should be denied because someone had the misfortune of being born under Saddam Hussein. And when the absence of freedom spawns nests of terrorism, aggression, genocide, and pursuit of nuclear weapons, it is morally imperative to intervene. If America must be the one to take out garbage others are unwilling or unable to face, so be it.

2) War is always a failure: When the U.S. galvanizes resources and American public support in the pursuit of a just aim, war is sometimes the only option that can accomplish anything of value. The UN was formed to keep the great powers from destroying each other; in that and in humanitarian assistance, it is effective. But the UN is incapable of "collective security" as each nation ultimately will look after its own; just as each nation will determine what affects its security, so will the U.S. There is no world government and given the nature of the rest of the world, that is a good thing. Much as courts would be impotent without enforcement, so are handwringing of naifs and idle talk of the Security Council. If America must be the enforcer that others are unwilling or unable to be, so be it.

3) Saddam is a bad guy, but...: The yes-but brigade has been clamoring since Sept. 11 pinning the blame for everyone's problems on the U.S. Stop. In a battle between imperfect good and pure evil, there is no choice. The U.S. is responsible for many bad things, but the U.S. is responsible for many more good things, more so than most nations and more than any great power ever; we must make our country better, which requires constructive criticism, not the whining self-loathing that's displaced patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel.

4) We should not attack those who did not attack us: The president must not just react but anticipate. If Clinton had invaded Afghanistan in 1999 to "get" Osama bin Laden (as reportedly he was to until Gen. Musharraf seized power in Pakistan), all the current protesters would have protested then as well. But they would have been wrong, just as they are wrong today. It is not acceptable to U.S. security for tyrants with any conceivable access to any terrorists to get nuclear weapons. Pakistan and North Korea are already two such states, and two too many; the U.S. can't let this club grow. Waiting for a mushroom cloud over Los Angeles is stupid and insane.

5) The consequences will be unpredictable, with more terrorism, instability, etc.: The consequences of inaction in the face of terrorism in the last 20 years (TWA, Beirut, World Trade Center I, USS Cole, the embassy bombings) are clear. The consequences of stability of Middle Eastern regimes in cesspools that pass for societies are clear. For Iraqis, the consequences of leaving Saddam in power far outweigh the regrettable and unintended civilian casualties of war. Fortune favors the bold. Analysis isn't an excuse for paralysis. The self-appointed spokesmen for the Iraqi people who did everything in their power to perpetuate Saddam's reign should be ashamed of themselves.

To the protesters that said "not in our name": Iraqis' freedom and joy are indeed not in your name. The lives of countless Iraqis who would have been killed by Saddam for years to come are not in your name. The light that now pierces the darkness of fear in the Middle East is not in your name. Nonetheless, admit the obvious and be happy for all those no longer under Saddam's boot.


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