Hope for Reformers Will Come From Iraq- or else.
I am going to work on this piece over the holidays, but for now here is the first draft- watch for updates. For some time the opposition to the war in Iraq has troubled and puzzled me. I've been thinking about it a lot lately.
Search the web for news about Iraq and you will find hundreds, if not thousands of sites advocating withdrawal form Iraq. The Secretary General of the U.N. calls the war illegal. A presidential candidate called it “the wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time.” “Viet Nam” metaphors abound. Kidnapping victims facing brutal, agonizing deaths plead for withdrawal to save their lives. Terrorists reached out and killed in Madrid, changing the balance of power in an election and the coalition shrunk. Protestors at home scream “Imperialism” and chant tired slogans.
Lately I’ve been asking myself “Was invading Iraq wrong, and are we doing the right thing in Iraq today?”. We went to Iraq searching for WMD. Saddam had them at one point, no one disputes that- after all he used them on the Kurds in Iraq. He had well known links to terror organizations, and had 12 years to prove to the world that he did not posses WMD. My conclusion is that we had no choice but to go in. If Saddam had no connection to 9-11 then one can rest assured that the dealers of death in the name of God would not have been long in calling on him for the next attack. Anyone who doubts that the Islamo-fascist regimes and entities would use WMD against us is delusional. We must take every action possible to deter an attack with the potential to kill and injure tens of thousands of Americans. Never before have so few had the potential to harm so many. Every jihadist killed in Iraq will not attack Disneyland. Every nation that realizes that we will protect ourselves through pre-emptive strike is less likely to support the Osama bin Ladens of the world.
But when we determined that to all appearances he had no WMD, what should we have done? Recalled the troops and left Iraq alone? I shudder to think of who would have filled that vacuum.
The next few years in Iraq are the anvil on which the future of the Middle East will be forged. Democracy must succeed in Iraq. Not America, not the West, not Liberalism with a capital “L”, but small “l” liberalism. There are voices calling for reform from within the ME, not many, to be sure, and not loudly yet, but they are there. And the owners of those voices are watching intently. The Islamo-fascists who seek 4 million dead Americans and a globe encircled by Islam are watching too. We need to get the message out that America is serious about freedom and democracy around the world, and that Iraq is merely the next step. Afghanistan was the first, and they recently held successful national elections, but may already be slipping from the American psyche. What next? Libya has already got the message. Good news emerged from the Dubai Conference. Egypt and Jordan are coming around- calling on Iraqis to unite as Arabs and set aside factional differences (of course not all Iraqis are Arab, but it is a start). Finally, and most importantly for the future of the region, every reformer in the ME who can look to Iraq and see a democracy take root will be given hope.
The struggle for Iraq, and ultimately the region and quite literally the future of the world as we know it will not be easy. We need to apply perspective. While every life lost in Iraq is a tragedy, America lost 295,000 dead in WWII- a war to save the world too, and one in which we elected to take the fight to an enemy that had not yet attacked us, but who posed a bigger risk over the enemy that. Our options are limited now, much as they were then- fight now, fight later at potentially much greater cost, or surrender. That war started for us in 1941. It ended in 1989. This war started some years ago, it is hard to pinpoint when exactly, but the October 23, 1981 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon might be a good point to start. For 20 years we pretended there was no war. In 2001 we came to our senses, and realized this is a war. Let’s not lose them now.
More to come on this.