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Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Iraq IS a success -- Victor Davis Hanson

The ever knowledgeable Victor Davis Hanson has done it again.

In his new article, What History Says About the Iraq War, he lays out the solid history that explains the shortcomings of the war in Iraq, but reminds us of its success and why we should be heralding it, not attacking it.

It is the anti-American left that is destroying this war effort, NOT the supposed failures of the Bush administration.

Here are some excerpts of that piece:

Affluent and leisured Western democracies have always had great difficulty maintaining popular support for costly counterinsurgency wars, especially when many citizens have been convinced that their own safety is no longer directly put at risk by the easier course of withdrawal. Perhaps most of all, public ambivalence about the Iraq war is due to generalized ignorance of military history. Without guidance from the past, too many people are shepherded through the experience of war by nothing deeper than the rollercoaster emotions whipped up by 24-hour news coverage of explosions and suicide bombings.

Yes, a thousand times yes. Westerners are so blatantly ignorant of history that it sickens anyone with even a cursory knowledge of past wars and political histories.

Start with the fact that intelligence failures are part of every war. This should not excuse the miserable recent record of our CIA and other agencies. But history tells us clearly that accurate intelligence gathering on enemy intentions has always been a difficult practice.

Must we apply the old saw that hindsight is 20/20? History is replete with bad intelligence and failures to see what seems obvious afterward. Just for instance, we didn't have fire codes in the USA until a room full of female garment workers were forced to jump out of a high rise window to their deaths because of a fire in their workplace, a workplace chained and locked by their employers so the workers couldn't leave during work hours. These girls' bodies piled onto the streets in front of shocked onlookers in New York city and the outrage afterwards caused politicians to create fire codes. We could easily say that the city SHOULD have had such laws before that fire killed all those young girls. But, hindsight is 20/20.

Wars rarely start by accident, or through clumsy statesmanship. Most often they break out because a nation with something to lose lets its military credibility dissipate. That is an invitation to fighting. Athens had no mechanism of preventing the Spartan army from crossing its border in 431 — and so it did. The Roman Republic’s warnings to Hannibal that it would be suicidal to attack an allied Saguntum had the smell of empty threats. And so the Carthaginians crossed the Ebro River in Spain and headed for Italy.

Warning! Let the anti-military left get hold of the US military and we will be left unarmed -- remember what Clinton did to our forces with his 8 disastrous years in office.
Seen in the history of past wars, the American effort to remove Saddam and seed democracy in the Middle East seems little short of miraculous. A successful military action has been carried out 7,000 miles from home. This has been done at far less human and material cost than almost any prior comparable U.S. war. A powerful, multi-pronged effort to eliminate the nexus of Arab autocracy and Islamism (the conditions that germinated bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terror) now continues to gain ground.

Why so little appreciation for what has been achieved so far? For one thing, many Westerners underestimate the threats that have been nullified in the process. Elites in particular often fail to grasp that most societies on the planet do not operate by the same rational selfinterest (much less the Golden Rule of the New Testament) that governs our own societies. To confess that education and material progress have not quashed the instinctual human desire to take by force what is not properly yours seems too depressing for modern, educated Western man to accept.

What can I say better than Hanson? His analysis is dead on. And we will be just dead if we ignore his counsel.

-Warner Todd Huston
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