Saturday, April 01, 2006


Big Myths and Real Security

Not that those who need to would ever listen, but Victor Davis Hanson attempts to correct the 6 Big Myths in opposition thinking about the War in Iraq, in today’s National Review Online.

What are the 6 Big Myths? Hanson transcribes the following, which he then effortlessly debunks:

1. Saddam was never connected to al Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11.

2. There was no real threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

3. The United Nations and our allies were justifiably opposed on principle to the invasion.

4. A small cabal of neoconservative (and mostly Jewish) intellectuals bullied the administration into a war that served Israel’s interest more than our own.

5. Saddam could not be easily deposed, or at least he could not be successfully replaced with a democratic government.

6. The architects of this war and the subsequent occupation are mostly inept (“dangerously incompetent”) — and are exposed daily as clueless by a professional cadre of disinterested journalists.

Note that all of these myths save #4 are now affirmed as fact in the Democrats’ plan for Really Real SecurityTM, and that the vocal opponents of the war in Iraq frequently refer to these fables as established fact. This is even more the case when one reads the Really Real Details of Really Real SecurityTM.

What do we want to say of the analytic and decision-making abilities who can based critical judgments on false information? (Please, let’s not repeat the opposition’s deceit in suggesting these people are liars.) But seriously, how can we possibly hope to have an intelligent discussion with people who refuse to act like adults? Those who attach themselves most tightly to rhetorical slights of hand and parlor gimmicks, than actual ideas and evidence?

What if we have a debate on National Security, and for one side of the debate no serious students of history, terrorism, or military operations shows up?

Hanson notes that those who have most vocally insisted that there was “no proof whatsoever” of links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, now fatuously parrot the line that “Saddam was not connected to September 11.” Despite the fevered imaginings of the sufferers of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome), no such claim has ever been made by this Administration.

Hanson reviews the continued stream of intelligence information coming out of Iraq, and rightly holds that Saddam’s connections to Al Qaeda are fully established:

The issue is closed: Saddam Hussein’s regime had a mutually beneficial association with al Qaeda. All that remains in doubt is the degree to which Iraq’s generic support enabled al Qaeda to pull off operations like September 11. It may be that Saddam and Osama, in their views of Islam and jihad, were as antithetical to one another as Japanese and Germans were in attitudes about racial superiority. But in both cases, rogues find common ground in their opposition to hated Western liberalism.

Not that this will ever be acknowledged by the critics of this war.

And how about those last two myths, about how improbable would be the success of our efforts in Iraq, and how “dangerously incompetent” is the current Administration in fighting terrorism, Al Qaeda, and this war in Iraq?

Hanson takes on myths 5 and 6, and reflects on the real history that can be used as a basis for comparison.

Fifth, after the three-week victory of April 2003, we have now forgotten the earlier prognostications of millions of refugees, oil wells afire, and thousands of dead that were to follow in Iraq. Twenty-three hundred American fatalities are grievous losses, but must be weighed against three successful elections, and the real chance that such sacrifice might result in the first true Arab democracy emerging in Iraq, with ramifications beyond the Middle East for generations to come. Currently, tens of thousands of Iraqis are the only Arabs in the world who daily risk their lives to fight al Qaeda terrorists — something that just may be in America’s interest.

Sixth, we have not had another September 11. Two-thirds of the leadership of al Qaeda is dismantled. Fifty million people have voted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria is out of Lebanon. The Middle East is in democratic turmoil from the Gulf to Egypt and Libya, not mired in the old autocratic stasis. The Europeans are waking up to the dangers of Islamism as the Western world seeks to deal with a nuclear Iran.

This can’t be right, according to the true believers in the opposition. Why, their plan for Really Real SecurityTM explicitly says that we have failed in Iraq:

The Bush Administration’s incompetence in Iraq has inflicted a heavy toll on our troops…more than 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed…

Why even “Conservative Icon William F. Buckley” says so!

What’s more, the clear eyed, “reality-based” assessment found in Really Real Details of Really Real SecurityTM explicitly says that Iraq has allowed Al Qaeda to triumph, and for Iraq to become a “training ground” for terrorism!

By opting to pursue a war of choice in Iraq, the Bush Administration diverted scarce resources from the war on terror, which enabled Al Qaeda to morph into an expansive movement, fueled other terrorist organizations, and turned Iraq into what it was not before the war – a terrorist training ground and launching pad. (Page 45 of 123 in .pdf file)

Wow, how’s that for a catch phrase: War of ChoiceTM. Note how Really Real SecurityTM acknowledges that there is, in fact, an actual “war on terror.” I thought Democrats thought that you couldn’t have a war on an idea, that that was just “fear-mongering.”

As Hanson points out, the deaths of over 2,300 valiant Americans in Iraq are grievous, but these relatively small number of casualties, given what we’ve accomplished, are miniscule in comparison to any previous or comparable military operations in history. The casualty rate barely exceeds the rates that could be expected from training and other non-combat injuries and deaths for a standing Army involved in peacetime, peacekeeping, or other contingency operations. Comparisons have been done by reputable sources, knowledgeable in military affairs. No impartial analyst would consider these losses surprising, nor evidence of incompetence.

The idea that our efforts have made Al Qaeda stronger and allowed it to “morph into an expansive movement,” instead of weaker, fewer in number, and often dead and on the run, is laughable on its face. There exists a great amount of documentary evidence that Saddam was very interested in doing a sideline business training terrorists, hosted terrorists, sponsored terrorists, funded terrorists, and exported terrorism. The only arguable points are how extensive, how direct as policy, how much the Iraqi intelligence services were involved, and how much actions were taken by Saddam merely on whim.

Note too, the deniability inherent in the weasel phrase, “morph into an expansive movement.” That could represent something as amorphous as creating an Al Qaeda legend or mystique, comparable to those members of the na├»ve and ignorant western elites who so favor their Che Gevara posters and T-shirts. “What? We never said Al Qaeda got stronger or grew because of Iraq. We said its ideas formed the basis of an ideological movement of sympathizers.”

Contrary to what is stated as “fact” in Really Real SecurityTM, the realities of the war in Iraq and the US Global War on Terror are a mixed bag, to be sure. There are worrying signs, the outcomes are in doubt, and as our commitment and will as a people to fight against those who seek our harm wanes, we possibly embolden otherwise weakened enemies.

The leadership of our military has a strategy for victory, we have plans to accomplish that victory, and we have achieved great success in the three and a half years since 9/11. We better see our enemies for who they are, we have mobilized against them, and we now confront them head on. We do all this in a stifling environment of political rancor, partisan score-settling, morale-crippling denouncements, cynical opportunism, and hateful and prejudiced speech. And that’s just from our supposedly loyal opposition, not to mention a more-hostile-than-not media.

Hanson notes the threats, and thinks our strategy effective:

Our military cannot be defeated by either the Islamists or their autocratic supporters. We have the right strategy of hunting down terrorists, securing the homeland, and insidiously, but carefully, promoting democratic reform in the Middle East (an impossible notion, by the way, with the sinister presence of an oil rich and genocidal Saddam Hussein, given his history of attacking four of his neighbors.)

We have even articulated, at last, an exegesis of the dangers of radical Islam — why it hates Western freedom and how it thrives on the oil, misery, and dictatorship of the Middle East.

Hanson notes the dangers, too, but they’re not military:

There remains this last unknown — how well can a liberal democracy, in its greatest age of affluence, leisure, and self-critical reflection, still fight a distant war against emissaries of the Dark Ages who seek to behead apostates, blow up democrats, and silence with death writers, journalists, and cartoonists. It is not just our democratic values versus their IEDs, but whether our idealism still has the resilience to defeat their nihilism.

Or put more directly: Can Western enlightenment and power, embedded in deep cynicism, still prevail over ignorance and self-inflicted pathology energized by fanaticism?

If we fall under the spell, and substitute rhetorical flourishes of Really Real SecurityTM for the hard-nosed and battle proven tactics of our Global War on Terror, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

Link: Mudville Gazette, bRight&Early, Jo's Cafe, Outside the Beltway, RightWingNation, Wizbang, Unconsidered Trifles, TMH's Bacon Bits, Blue Star Chronicles

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]