Towards A Good Samaritan World

Friday, February 04, 2005

Pity the Democrats. This Victor Davis Hanson philippic is devastating; James Pinkerton, who used to be pretty icy towards the Iraq war, now says the Democrats "barely even register"; even the liberal Washington Post is disdainful of their evasion on Social Security reform. And Krauthammer piles on. Of course, Hanson and Krauthammer are always inclined to argue against the left. But there's something new in the outrage and the disdain with which they pound them now, after the Iraqi election. The Democrats' allies in the MSM are losing their grip on the opinion-making process.

Here, the Wall Street Journal blasts the Democrats' call for an 'exit strategy':

Every so often, an American politician takes an unpopular stand for the sake of what's right: Think of Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Frequently, he
takes an unprincipled stand for the sake of what's popular: Take Richard Nixon's price controls. Sometimes, even, he does what's right, which also happens to be
popular: Ronald Reagan's bombing of Libya.


Only in the rarest of instances, however, do politicians take positions that are both unpopular and unprincipled. That is where the Democratic Party leadership finds itself today on Iraq.



Well, I don't think that asking for an 'exit strategy' is quite as untenable as the WSJ does. It's valid to ask, "We removed Saddam, they have democracy now; why are we still there?" Answer: we're helping our newest democratic ally overcome murderous terrorist subversion.

Mission 1 was to remove Saddam Hussein. We achieved it efficiently and brilliantly. Given the character of Saddam's regime and his refusal (inadequately motivated though it turned out to be) to give weapons' inspectors full access to his country, the war was clearly just. That part of the war enjoyed public support of 70-85%. Bush marked its success by his "Mission Accomplished" appearance on the aircraft carrier.

Mission 2 was nation-building. The objective of the mission was not wholly clear to the public, nor perhaps to those engaged in it. Discipline failures opened the door to shameful episodes of prisoner abuse, which were photographed and humiliated our country. We were an occupying power, and the basis for the legitimacy of our operations was unclear. Militarily, our troops had a task to which they were less well-adapted; not open battle, but urban guerrilla warfare. That part of the war enjoyed about the level of public support it deserved, around 50%-- although, on the other hand, it has been vindicated by the elections. Gerard Baker believes that "Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, Iraq elections will change world history," and he reflects how:

Sometimes moments of truly historic significance are almost instantly
recognisable for what they are. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 proclaimed its
universal importance right from the start. No one needed to be told that the
fall of the Berlin Wall was going to change history. With others the
consequences creep up on us slowly, even surreptitiously. Some wise heads see
the significance; others resist it or are blind to it. It was not immediately
necessarily evident that Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933 would lead to the
unrelenting tragedy that unfolded for Europe and the world over the next decade.
We all know better now.

Last Sunday I think will quickly fall into the first category. There is
an unstoppable momentum for change in the Middle East now. In just two years
tyrannies have been felled in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Palestine, the inexorable
clock of human mortality has ended another. But the crucial element was always
going to be the voluntary and courageous act of self-assertion that democratic
and free elections represent — a message heard around the region and the world.


But the best response to the election I've read yet is by this Iraqi blogger:

What we have witnessed is something amazing. I am an Iraqi and a Baghdadi
and should know, and deep down in my heart I knew; yet I must admit that I did
not expect all this. The common Iraqi citizen has taken all by surprise,
including those of us who are indigenous to this land.

It was expected that relatively secure areas in the South and North were
going to see heavy turnout. Yet Baghdad; subjected to a terrorist and
intimidation campaign of unprecedented scale and cruelty; Baghdad, deprived of
electricity, fuel and lately even water( which is more dangerous than anything
else); Baghdad, that lacks security, where the citizens face mortal danger every
moment of their daily life; Baghdad, where life has almost ground to a
standstill; that citizens of this Baghdad should line up at polling stations
braving very real dangers, with mortars raining down and scores of suicide
bombers sent out to blow up people, and moreover that many even brought their
children: this Baghdad was a revelation even to Baghdadis. There were amazing
scenes; not very likely to seen anywhere else. There were acts of heroism.
...

As for some of the Arab scum and other detractors, they are appearing on TV
screens looking like they have just swallowed a cockroach...

Finally, we heard the speech of President Bush Loud and clear. He, and the
American people and their British and other valiant allies have much to do with
this event. All I can say is that this man has all the essential traits of
character that distinguishes the great men of history; the insistence and utter
conviction and the perseverance and steadfastness in the face of all doubters
and detractors. This was no ordinary election, and it was not simply to elect a
constituent assembly. It was the answer of the people, what they really thought
about the liberation, what they really thought of the ideas preached by the
president.


Mission 3 is beginning now: to help a new democratic ally defy terrorist subversion and get onto its feet after a revolution against Baathist tyranny. There's no question of the legitimacy of our operations now. We clearly have the will of the Iraqi people behind us, and soon we are likely to be working hand-in-hand with a democratically elected Iraqi government. There may be another part of this Mission too: with the Shiites in the ascendant now, the Sunnis will need a friend. We should be ready to exert quiet pressure for minority rights and reconciliation if need be. (Of course, if they ask us to leave, that's fine too.) Democrats should be behind this, but they've lost their moral bearings in the swamps of Bush-hatred.

Dean at DNC head will make matters worse, fumes Jonathan Chait. While Chait is persuasive, I've found Dean appealing when I see him on TV. But he symbolizes the Democrats' non-existent moral compass on Iraq. As I said, pity the Democrats...

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