Victor Davis Hanson writes on it: An American “Debacle”? More unjustified negativity on the war in Iraq
Such gloom seems to be the fashion of the day. Iraq is now routinely dismissed as a quagmire or “lost.” Osama bin laden is assumed to be still active, while we are beginning the fifth year of the war that is “longer than World War II.” Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo purportedly are proof of our brutality and have lost us hearts and minds, while gas prices spiral out of control. The U.S. military is supposedly “overextended” if not “wrecked” by Iraq, while the war in Afghanistan “drags on.” Meanwhile, it is “only a matter of time” until we are hit with another terrorist strike of the magnitude of September 11. To cap it off, the United States is now “disliked” abroad, by those who abhor our “unilateralism” and “preemptive” war.
All that is a fair summation of the current glumness.
But how accurate are such charges? If one were to assess them from the view of the Islamic fundamentalists, they would hardly resemble reality.
Many of al-Zarqawi or Dr. Zawahiri’s intercepted letters and communiqués reveal paranoid fears that Iraq is indeed becoming lost — but to the terrorists. The enemy speaks of constantly shifting tactics — try beheading contractors; no, turn to slaughtering Shiites; no, butcher teachers and school kids; no, go back to try to blow up American convoys. In contrast, we are consistent in our strategy — go after jihadists, train Iraqi security forces, promote consensual government so Iraq becomes an autonomous republic free to determine its own future. We will leave anytime the elected government of Iraq asks us to; the terrorists won’t cease until they have rammed, Taliban-style, an 8th-century theocracy down the throats of unwilling Iraqis.
Bin Laden is in theory “loose,” but can’t go anywhere except the wild Afghan-Pakistan border or perhaps the frontiers of Kashmir. His terrorist hierarchy is scattered, and many of his top operatives are either dead or, like he, in hiding. For all the legitimate worry over the triangulation of Pakistan, it is still safer for Americans openly to walk down the streets of Islamabad than for bin Laden. In any case, at least the former try it and the latter does not. How much food and medical supplies will bin Laden airlift in to his fellow Muslims reeling from the earthquake?
Note how al Qaeda has dropped much of its vaunted boasts to restore the caliphate over the infidel, and now excuses its violence with the plea of victimhood: “After all this, does the prey not have the right, when bound and dragged to its slaughter, to escape? Does it not have the right, while being slaughtered, to lash out with its paw? Does it not have the right, after being slaughtered, to attack its slaughterer with its blood?”
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The story of the war since September 11 is that the United States military has not lost a single battle, has removed two dictatorships, and has birthed democracy in the Middle East.
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Finally, we need to be systematic in our appraisal of the course of this war, asking not just whether the United States is more popular and better liked, but rather whether Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and Egypt are moving in the right or wrong direction. Is Europe more or less attuned to the dangers of radical Islam, and more or less likely to work with the United States? Is the Israeli-Palestinian dispute getting worse or stabilizing? Is our security at home getting better, and do we understand radical Islam more or less perfectly? Are Middle East neutrals like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan more or less helpful in the war against the terrorists? Are global powers like India and Japan more or less inclined to America? And are clear-cut enemies such as Iran and Syria becoming more or less emboldened or facing ostracism?
If we look at all these questions dispassionately, and tune out the angry rhetoric on the extreme Left and Right, then we can see things are becoming better rather than worse — even as the media and now the public itself believes that a successful strategy is failing.
Read it all.