Friday, September 23, 2005

VDH Friday

Victor Davis Hanson considers our policy in Iraq, looks at the alternatives, and suggests that we "stay the course".
Our current policy is not just correct because we are now wedded to it. In fact, it is a reaction to our past strategy of realpolitik coupled with appeasement. That strategy led us to 9/11 and a quarter century of terror originating in Iran in November 1979 — whether we define that history as cynical support for dictators, leaving after lobbing a few shells and bombs in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia, or Iraq, or allowing wounded tyrants like Saddam to stay in power.

Second, our efforts after 9/11 represent not the worst, but the best of America abroad. Millions just voted yet again in Afghanistan in one of the true revolutionary events of our time — mostly unnoticed by Western media.

We forget that Iraq was not liberated until almost 15 months after Kabul. Yet it is already progressing down the same constitutional road. Despised Kurds and Shiites have achieved equal representation. And that topsy-turvy world has infuriated a once oppressive Sunni minority, formerly associated with Saddam Hussein, now in sympathy with al Zarqawi , the terrorist killer. Once unpopular because we were alleged to be cynical in our support of dictators, we are now even more suspect because we are proven proponents of downtrodden Kurds and Shiites in their efforts for political equality. Most Americans — since they are going to be disliked either way — prefer to be hated for their idealism rather than their cynicism.

Billions in American material aid has flowed to Iraqis, even as the price of oil has skyrocketed, costing us billions more — so much for oil conspiracies and stealing Arab resources. In short, Iraq is not an imperialistic venture, but a messy, unappreciated attempt to make the United States more secure by removing dictators from their petrodollar-funded arsenals and leaving constitutional governments in their wake, while promoting social justice for the formerly marginalized.

Note that so far there are none of the indications that would rightly tell us it is high time to leave Iraq: Polls don’t suggest that Iraqis want us out immediately; the parliament has not asked the United States to depart; President Talabani does not order us home; American military commanders and diplomats on the ground in Iraq have not concluded that success is impossible, and there is not a grassroots popular movement across religious and tribal lines to oppose the American-sponsored democratic reforms.

Even though we have failed so far to marshal the strength to crush the Sunni insurrection, Iraq is still a far better place now than it was in March 2003, as most Iraqis agree. The Middle East is a better place, whether in Palestine, Afghanistan, or Lebanon. And the position of the United States, the object of unprecedented acrimony and invective, is better off — whether we measure that as the absence of another 9/11 attack, strengthening friendships with India, Japan, Eastern Europe, and the English-speaking countries, reforming the anti-American U.N., or making some progress in North Korea.