Monday, October 23, 2006


Hindsight and Foresight

Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Online assesses the many reassessments coming in from all quarters on the wisdom, rightness or chance for success of our efforts in Iraq.

As his starting point, Hanson dismisses the great majority of negative commentary about Iraq that dwells on issues that are now entirely moot, and irrelevant. Most of the arguments, how many troops, how much to de-Baathify, what to do with the Iraqi Army, have been done and settled, and even the attempt to harp on these constitutes an implicit missing of the point that reflects ignorance, foolishness, or self or other deception.

He rightly characterizes many of these ruminations as not “second thoughts,” but third ones, as the practitioners of this form of politically opportunistic hindsight surely want to minimize any previous support. In reassessing, they dissemble and revision their history. They attempt to stir things up amid the current complexities of Iraq, and thereby dilute any possibility of their own responsibility for things as we see them now:

As we head for the November elections, most politicians have renounced their paternity of the now-orphaned American effort in Iraq. And pundits of summer 2003 have not just had second thoughts about Iraq in the autumn of our discontent in 2006 — but very public third thoughts about whether they ever really had their enthusiastic first ones.

Hanson correctly observes that the current strategy will be played out, more or less, faster or slower, as an inevitability that turns Iraqi security more and more over to the Iraqis. If the Democrats gain sufficient political control in midterm elections to influence policy in Iraq, they will more than likely be compelled and motivated to allow US military planners and leadership carry on, and continue to adapt as events and outcomes dictate. Any alternative – that will pull out precipitously (that ol’ cut and run) – would almost certainly suggest a far higher political price for their change in direction, than they have shown inclination to pay:

For all the Democrats loud criticism, if they do regain Congress, they would probably rely on the present expertise of a Khalizad, Abizaid, or Petraeus, and not the often quoted wisdom of three years past of a Gen. Shinseki or Zinni. I doubt they will bring back Gen. Wesley Clark to fix the “mess.” They will either have to cut off funds, ensure a pull out before the end of the year, and then watch real blood sport as reformers are butchered; or they will have to trust that our present military and civilian leadership has learned the hard lessons of three years in Iraq, and can find a way to stabilize the nascent democracy.

Hanson, from the solid rock of history, military affairs, and rational logic, sees much good where others see woe and chaos:

The odd thing is that, for all the gloom and furor, and real blunders, nevertheless, by the historical standards of most wars, we have done well enough to win in Iraq, and still have a good shot of doing the impossible in seeing this government survive. More importantly still, worldwide we are beating the Islamic fundamentalists and their autocratic supporters. Iranian-style theocracy has not spread. For all the talk of losing Afghanistan, the Taliban are still dispersed or in hiding — so is al Qaeda. Europe is galvanizing against Islamism in a way unimaginable just three years ago. The world is finally focusing on Iran. Hezbollah did not win the last war, but lost both prestige and billions of dollars in infrastructure, despite a lackluster effort by Israel. Elections have embarrassed a Hamas that, the global community sees, destroys most of what it touches and now must publicly confess that it will never recognize Israel. Countries like Libya are turning, and Syria is more isolated. If we keep the pressure up in Iraq and Afghanistan and work with our allies, Islamism and its facilitators will be proven bankrupt.

And on the verge of substantial accomplishment, if not outright victory, there are those who would try to win the Media War, by convincing us we’ve already lost.

(Via Real Clear Politics)

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

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

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]