Monday morning quarterbacking in Iraq

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 10:24 am by Neal

Did you see this article by Victor Davis Hanson in yesterday’s National Review? If not, then you’ll definitely want to check it out. Hanson points out that second-guessing — besides being tiring and pointless — distracts us from the hard decisions that must be made to finish this incredibly difficult job.

No, only the United States, and its superb military, can stabilize Iraq and give the Iraqis enough time and confidence to do what has not been done before, and what apparently no one any longer thinks will be done: a surviving, viable democratic government in the heart of the dictatorial Middle East. Though the necessary aims are clear, they are not quickly and easily attained. Everyone understands that there is no single military answer to Iraq, but rather that the political solution depends on soldiers providing enough security long enough for free commerce and expression to become established. So rather than agonize endlessly over past perceived errors, we must realize that such lapses are not unprecedented in our military experience and focus on whether they are still correctable.

How do we define success in Iraq, in the context of a dysfunctional Middle East where elections in Lebanon and Palestine bring turmoil, the “correct” multilateral NATO war in Afghanistan is still raging, and we still can’t do much to find bin Laden in a “friendly,” but nuclear and Islamic, Pakistan? No mention is necessary about an Algeria still reeling from a horrendous bloodbath in the 1990s, the nightmare that was Qadhafi’s Libya, perennial Syrian roguery, the theocratic disaster in Iran, or all the other butchery that passes for the norm in the Middle East.

We can only ask: Are the tribal leaders of the troubled Anbar province now more likely to join the government or the insurgents? Are the old controversial barometers of Iraqi wartime electrical production, GDP, and oil output currently falling or stable? Is the successful Kurdistan seceding or in fact still part of Iraq? Is the Shiite leadership now de facto a pawn of Iran, or still confident about its role in a democratic and autonomous Iraq? Do the communiqués and private correspondence of al Qaeda in Iraq reflect cocky triumphalism or worry over losing? Do Iraqi elected leaders praise us or damn us and ask us to leave? In a global war against Islamic jihadists, who have killed thousands of Americans here at home, should we lament that we are now fighting and killing them as they flock to distant Iraq?

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