Friday, December 02, 2005

VDH scores and makes some very real assertions -The Moral War

Victor nails it again. For those of you not familiar with VDH, he is a renowned military historian, Rhodes scholar and military realist who empirically defines his opinions on the current US military and war on terror situations both in Iraq and worldwide. Victor's opinions are based on precedental military fact, keen strategic assessment and his mastery of military history. These qualities are key to VDH's ability to see though political hubris and emotionalism to the actual empirical truths of this war. Some are offended by his pontification style and the left particularly hates him as they have a problem with guys like Victor that burst their hot air balloons with sharply defined rational thoughts rich in military precision and reality. Read on. Click on the Title for the actual article on NR Online.

A Moral War
The moral onus should have always been on the critics of the war.
Victor Davis Hanson
December 2, 2005

The project in Iraq can succeed, and leave its critics scrambling.
Almost everything that is now written about Iraq rings not quite right: It was a “blunder”; there should have been far more troops there; the country must be trisected; we must abide by a timetable and leave regardless of events on the ground; Iraq will soon devolve into either an Islamic republic or another dictatorship; the U.S. military is enervated and nearly ruined; and so on.
In fact, precisely because we have killed thousands of terrorists, trained an army, and ensured a political process, it is possible to do what was intended from the very beginning: lessen the footprint of American troops in the heart of the ancient caliphate.
Save for a few courageous Democrats, like Senator Joe Lieberman, who look at things empirically rather than ideologically, and some stalwart Republicans, most politicians and public intellectuals have long bailed on the enterprise.
This is now what comprises statesmanship: Some renounce their earlier support for the war. Others, less imaginative, in Clintonian (his and hers) fashion, take credit for backing the miraculous victory of spring 2003, but in hindsight, of course, blame the bloody peace on Bush. Or, better yet, they praise Congressman Murtha to the skies, but under no circumstances go on record urging the military to follow his advice.
How strange that journalists pontificate post facto about all the mistakes that they think have been made, nevertheless conceding that here we are on the verge of a third and final successful election. No mention, of course, is ever made about the current sorry state of journalistic ethics and incompetence (cf. Jayson Blair, Judy Miller, Michael Isikoff, Bob Woodward, Eason Jordan). A group of professionals, after all, who cannot even be professional in their own sphere, surely have no credibility in lecturing the U.S. military about what they think went wrong in Iraq.
Of course, the White House, as is true in all wars, has made mistakes, but only one critical lapse — and it is not the Herculean effort to establish a consensual government at the nexus of the Middle East in less than three years after removing Saddam Hussein. The administration’s lapse, rather, has come in its failure to present the entire war effort in its proper moral context.
We took no oil — the price in fact skyrocketed after we invaded Iraq. We did not do Israel’s bidding; in fact, it left Gaza after we went into Iraq and elections followed on the West Bank. We did not want perpetual hegemony — in fact, we got out of Saudi Arabia, used the minimum amount of troops possible, and will leave Iraq anytime its consensual government so decrees. And we did not expropriate Arab resources, but, in fact, poured billions of dollars into Iraq to jumpstart its new consensual government in the greatest foreign aid infusion of the age.
In short, every day the American people should have been reminded of, and congratulated on, their country’s singular idealism, its tireless effort to reject the cynical realism of the past, and its near lone effort to make terrible sacrifices to offer the dispossessed Shia and Kurds something better than the exploitation and near genocide of the past — and how all that alone will enhance the long-term security of the United States.
That goal was what the U.S. military ended up so brilliantly fighting for — and what the American public rarely heard. The moral onus should have always been on the critics of the war. They should have been forced to explain why it was wrong to remove a fascist mass murderer, why it was wrong to stay rather than letting the country sink into Lebanon-like chaos, and why it was wrong not to abandon brave women, Kurds, and Shia who only wished for the chance of freedom.
Alas, that message we rarely heard until only recently, and the result has energized amoral leftists, who now pose as moralists by either misrepresenting the cause of the war, undermining the effort of soldiers in the field, or patronizing Iraqis as not yet civilized enough for their own consensual government.
We can draw down our troops not because of political pressures but because of events on the ground. First, the Iraqi military is improving — not eroding or deserting. The canard of only “one battle-ready brigade” could just as well apply to any of the Coalition forces. After all, what brigade in the world is the equal of the U.S. military — or could go into the heart of Fallujah house-to-house? The French? The Russians? The Germans? In truth, the Iraqi military is proving good enough to hold ground and soon to take it alongside our own troops.
Despite past calls here to postpone elections, and threats of mass murder there for those who participated in them, they continue on schedule. And the third and last vote is the most important, since it will put a human face on the elected government — and the onus on it to officially sanction U.S. help and monetary aid or refuse it.
Saddam’s trial will remind the world of his butchery. Despite all the ankle-biting by human-rights groups about proper jurisprudence, the Iraqis will try him and convict him much more quickly than the Europeans will do the same to Milosevic (not to mention the other killers still loose like Gen. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic), posing the question: What is the real morality — trying a mass murderer and having him pay for his crimes, or engaging in legal niceties for years while the ghosts of his victims cry for justice?More importantly, we can also calibrate our progress by examining the perceived self-interest of the various players, here and abroad.
The Sunnis — no oil, a minority population, increasing disgust with Zarqawi, a shameful past under Saddam — will participate in the December elections in large numbers. They now have no choice other than either to be perpetual renegades and terrorists inside their own country or to gain world respect by turning to democracy. The election train is leaving in December and this time they won’t be left at the station.
Zarqawi and the radical Islamicists are slowly being squeezed as only a war at their doorstep could accomplish. Critics of Iraq should ask if we were not fighting Zarqawi in Iraq, where exactly would we be fighting Islamic fascists — or would the war against terror be declared over, won, lost, dormant, or ongoing, with the U.S. simply playing defense?
Instead, what Iraq did is ensure that al Qaeda’s Sunni support is being coopted by democracy. Jordan, the terrorists’ old ace in the hole that could always put a cosmetic face on its stealthy support for radicals, has essentially turned on Zarqawi and with him al Qaeda. Syria is under virtual siege and its border sanctuary now a killing zone. Bin Laden can offer very little solace from his cave. And somehow Islamists have alienated the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, and increasingly Middle East democracies like those in Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq, and reform movements in Lebanon and Jordan.
Decision day is coming when Zarqawi’s bombers will have to choose either to die, or, like a Nathan Bedford Forrest (“I’m a goin’ home”), quit to join the reform-seeking majority. That progress was accomplished only by the war in Iraq, and without it we would be back to playing a waiting game for another 9/11, while an autocratic Middle East went on quietly helping terrorists without consequences, either afraid of Saddam or secretly enjoying his chauvinist defiance.
Kurds and Shiites support us for obvious reasons — no other government on the planet would risk its sons and daughters to give them the right of one man/one vote. They may talk the necessary talk about infidels, but they know we will leave anytime they so vote. After the December election, expect them — and perhaps the Sunnis as well — quietly to ask us to stay to see things through.
Europe is quiet now. Madrid, London, Paris, and Amsterdam have taught Europeans that it is not George Bush but Islamic fascism that threatens their very existence. Worse still, they rightly fear they have lost the good will of the United States that so generously subsidized their defense — an entitlement perhaps to be sneered at during the post-Cold War “end of history,” but not in a new global war against Islamic terrorists keen to acquire deadly weapons.
Our military realizes that it can trump its brilliant victories in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein by birthing democracy in Iraq — or risk losing that impressive reputation by having a new Lebanon blow up in its face. China, Japan, India, Russia, Korea, Iran, and other key countries are all watching Iraq — ready to calibrate American deterrence by the efficacy of the U.S. military in the Sunni Triangle. Our armed forces have already accomplished what the British and the Soviets could never do in Afghanistan; what the Russians failed to accomplish in Chechnya; and what we came so close to finishing in Vietnam. They won’t falter now when they are so close to winning an almost impossibly difficult war, one that will be recognized by friends and enemies as beyond the capability of any other military in the world.
The Left now risks losing its self-proclaimed moral appeal. It had trashed the efforts in Iraq for months on end, demanded a withdrawal — only recently to learn from polls that an unhappy public may also be unhappy with it for advocating fleeing while American soldiers are in harm’s way. Another successful election, polls showing Iraqis overwhelmingly wishing us to stay on, visits by elected Iraqi officials asking continued help, and a decreasing American footprint will gradually erode the appeal of the antiwar protests — especially as triangulating public intellectuals and pundits begin to quiet down, fathoming that the United States may win after all.
The administration realizes that as long as it stays the course and our military remains confident we can win, we will — despite defections in the Congress, venom in the press, and cyclical lows in the polls. In practical political terms, only the administration, not the Congress or the courts, can choose to cease our efforts in Iraq. Rightly or wrongly, the Bush administration will be judged on Iraq: If we lose, the president will be seen as a tragic LBJ-like figure who squandered his initial grassroots support in a foreign quagmire; if we win, he will be remembered, in spirit, as something akin to a Harry Truman, and, in deed, an FDR who won a critical war against impossible odds, and restored the security of the United States.
George Bush may well go down in history as a less-effective leader than his father or Bill Clinton; but unlike either, he may also have a real chance to be remembered in that select class of rare presidents whom history records as having saved this country at a time of national peril and in the face of unprecedented criticism. BushÂ’s domestic agenda hinges on Iraq: If he withdraws now, his proposals on taxes, social security, deficit reduction, education, and immigration are dead. If he sees the Iraq project through, these now-iffy initiatives will piggyback on the groundswell of popular thanks he will receive for reforming the Middle East.
Strangely, I doubt whether very many would agree with much of anything stated above — at least for now. But if the administration can emphasize the moral nature of this war, and the military can continue its underappreciated, but mostly successful efforts to defeat the enemy and give the Iraqis a few more months of breathing space, who knows what the current opportunists and pessimists will say by summer.Will they say that they in fact were always sorta, kinda, really for removing Saddam and even staying on to see democracy work in Iraq?
— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
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Brad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brad said...

"Another successful election, polls showing Iraqis overwhelmingly wishing us to stay on, visits by elected Iraqi officials asking continued help, and a decreasing American footprint will gradually erode the appeal of the antiwar protests — especially as triangulating public intellectuals and pundits begin to quiet down, fathoming that the United States may win after all." -VDH

Iraqi opinion polls

Whether the Iraqi government wants us to stay,1280,-5431131,00.html

So much for that. They've already decided they're getting sick of us. And while we're at it, shall we look at the fact that we're replacing a secular dictator (yes, an evil man) with some of the Islamics that VDH seems to rave about (read the new Iraqi constitution- pay particular attention to the section that clearly states that Islamic law supersedes all other laws)? Or how about the fact that he somewhat oversimplifies the facts about the insurgency? The Sunnis have not and do not work together very much with Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Sunnis still take a very secular view, and do not work well with fundamentalists at all. This also is leaving aside that the most conclusive evidence points to over one hundred different sects, both Islamic and Secular, making up the combined power of the insurgency. A few of these sects work together on occasion. Most do not. Some are larger (Al Qaeda) and occasionally co-opt a few of the smaller groups for coordinated tasks. One other point rarely made is the fact that out of the estimated 10-16,000 combatants in the insurgent movements, less than ten percent are foreigners. The rest are Iraqis, some Sunni, some Shiite, and even some Kurds. Yes, even some of those oppressed by Saddam would rather have him in power than have us over there. The polls show that Iraqi public sentiment is significantly against us, and the Iraqi government has called for a timetable for our departure (and even decided that some of the insurgent sects are to be considered as legitimate 'resistance fighters', as well). That's us, though. We're always making new friends wherever we go. This shit didn't work under Wilson, and it's not working under Bush.


bahiabob said...

I took the time to review all of you sources for the suppostions you posted. I noticed that you avoid the reports from the military involved in the action or the actual iraqi people or any other source of specific factual information that doesn't fit your molding of the situation. You just spun the situation in Iraq to fit the al Dean Democrats' mold perfectly. This is not the actual truth. In fact this negative spin on Iraq and the Bush administration is so far from the truth it damages our troops morale and puts them and America in harms way. Nice going, lefty. So, try finding actual provable facts from other than spin engines and then we'll talk.

bahiabob said...

Basically I don't think your suppositions have much merit as taken together they are the leftist media's distortion and revisions of the actual facts with nothing presented by actual Iraqi's or coalition military personnel involved. Victor is correct in his assertions. The leftist spin spell you are under is strong. But you could fight it by taking the time to learn the unvarnished truth. Victor doesn't base his opinions on the stuff from the lefty spin miesters you use as your props in your arguments. I believe the coalition will prevail and Iraq will become a productive Democracy. To withdraw now would only bring chaos and give Islamist terrorism a launching pad. Remember that 8 million Iraqi's voted for the constitution and it's their country now. Of course the Iraqi's mention withdrawal. They want to use it as a reconciliation point with the Sunni's and Shiites. From the moment we entered Iraq, the current administration started working on withdrwawal plans. They were announced and revised so many times I can't begin to count them. Yet the left has a selective loss of memory and claims there are no plans. What hogwash. Most of the insurgency is Syrian sponsored and is fed from both foreigners Syria covertly and financially aids to cross the border and internally by former Baathists and other deadenders. It isn't a surprise that the mix includes all ethnic groups. Bad guys are everywhere in the Wild West. In the long term The terrorists know that they cannot win and the majority of the people of Iraq thinks so as shown in their willingness to vote for freedom twice in the face of terror. We will witness the next election on Dec. 15th and again the majority of the Iraqi people will give the terrorists the purple finger of freedom. Withdrawal will be orderly and we will leave when both the US and Iraqi's are ready. The government of Iraq is going to prevail and the World will be safer for it. But nothing is quite as simple as those antiwar/antiBush spinners on the left would have you believe.

Brad said...

So... Okay, I'll go with that. Do you have some alternate sources/polls/etc. to refute?

PS: Keep in mind, as well, that those polls were of Iraqis in Iraq, so that one's kind of difficult to ignore, but if you've got something good, I'll be happy to see it.

Brad said...

Also, can you provide some material on those withdrawal plans you talked about and on your numbers on the insurgency? Every actual tally I've read puts foreigners at only about 10% of the insurgency or less, with the rest being native Iraqis.


bahiabob said...

You don't need my help to find sources on the internet Try Goggle or Yahoo search. Type in a few key words like "Iraq Withdrawal" and you will get several hits. It's all in who you trust to tell the truth. I go on track record from previous engagements. My sources are somewhat hated by the left so if you lean very far in that direction, you may need to rethink things first before I give them to you. My information on Iraq is gleaned from correspondence and reports from our soldiers in the military theature of engagement. I have several people over there. Their stories, good news and heroics are way under reported by the MSM. In fact, leading up to the election in Iraq, the lefty MSM and the al Dean Fertilizer Farmers are doing their best to get you to believe that "Iraq is a Quagmire" again. The old refrain. The Purple Freedom day will change all of that in the eyes of those who matter most. The terrorists. Hopefully, even more Americans will wake up and see the truth as well. Another defeat for terrorism and another lesson learned.