Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ten Years After: A Decade Of The Iraq War

Lots of commentary on the 10th Anniversary of the start of "major combat operations" in Iraq, most of which can be summarized thus:

1. Sure we got rid of Saddam, but

2. It wasn't worth the effort and

3. War weariness + the Crash of '08 gave us Obama et al.

Well, as far as conventional wisdom goes, that's not good enough because I have yet to see anyone grapple with one incontrovertible fact: without 9/11 there would have been no Iraq War, and further that 9/11 made war inevitable (tell me Pres. Gore wouldn't have had Saddam in his sights, too).

Now, Americans, especially the leadership class, are famously ahistorical so maybe a brief history lesson is necessary. You see, a crazy thing happened one day in the past (the exact date escapes me): 19 Islamist terrorists high-jacked 4 passenger jets, killed their crews, and flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thousands of innocents died (and the death toll would have been greater had the planes crashed into the Twin Towers a couple hours later). The destruction in NYC was so great, the ruins were still smoldering two months later. It was a shocking event that briefly made the world's only superpower look vulnerable and helpless. It doesn't matter who was president on that day. Dennis Kucinich himself would have looked at the world map and asked, "who else on here can do this to us?" Asked that way, in the aftermath of 9/11, Saddam Hussein's Iraq raced to the top of the list.

Now, does that make the Iraq War some kind of triumph? Hell no! The Bush Administration hobbled itself repeatedly, starting with Colin Powell's invoking the previously unheard of "Pottery Barn Rule" as part of the invasion protocol. There were the fruitless months seeking permissions from the UN. There were the crazily restrictive rules of engagement. The quisling acts of supplication towards Muslim "sensibilities." There was Abu Ghraib. There was the absolute failure of communication as the liberal establishment attacked the war in the basest terms and the Bush Administration responded with Scott McLlellan. Worst of all were the seemingly endless years of drift under Gens. Sanchez, Casey & Abizaid (all of whom turned out to be liberal Democrats, for God's sake). Despite the presence of unsentimental Cold Warriors like Cheney and Rumsfeld, the Bush Administration tried to fight a politically correct war -- and only managed to engender the contempt of the politically correct types who voted for the war and then rode war opposition to power in Congress and the White House.

The Bush Administration was right to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. But, to win a war, you actually have to try to win, even if that means wrecking some minarets, or whatever, along the way. That's the real lesson of the Iraq War.

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