On July 8, the New York Times ran an historic editorial entitled “The Road Home,” demanding an immediate American withdrawal from Iraq. It is rare that an editorial gets almost everything wrong, but “The Road Home” pulls it off. Consider, point by point, its confused—and immoral—defeatism.As Hanson notes, the Times editors indicated they're:
....waiting for a sign that President Bush was seriously trying to dig the United States out of the disaster he created by invading Iraq without sufficient cause, in the face of global opposition, and without a plan to stabilize the country afterward.Here's Hanson's reply:
We’ll get to the war’s “sufficient cause,” but first let’s address the other two charges that the Times levels here against President Bush. Both houses of Congress voted for 23 writs authorizing the war with Iraq—a post-9/11 confirmation of the official policy of regime change in Iraq that President Clinton originated. Supporters of the war included 70 percent of the American public in April 2003; the majority of NATO members; a coalition with more participants than the United Nations alliance had in the Korean War; and a host of politicians and pundits as diverse as Joe Biden, William F. Buckley, Wesley Clark, Hillary Clinton, Francis Fukuyama, Kenneth Pollack, Harry Reid, Andrew Sullivan, Thomas Friedman, and George Will.The Times' editorial also said:
And there was a Pentagon postwar plan to stabilize the country, but it assumed a decisive defeat and elimination of enemy forces, not a three-week war in which the majority of Baathists and their terrorist allies fled into the shadows to await a more opportune time to reemerge, under quite different rules of engagement.
While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs—after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.Here's Hanson:
Of course there were breakthroughs: most notably, millions of Iraqis’ risking their lives to vote. An elected government remains in power, under a constitution far more liberal than any other in the Arab Middle East. In the region at large, Libya, following the war, gave up its advanced arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; Syria fled Lebanon; A.Q. Khan’s nuclear ring was shut down. And despite the efforts of Iran, Syria, and Sunni extremists in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, a plurality of Iraqis still prefer the chaotic and dangerous present to the sure methodical slaughter of their recent Saddamite past.Read the whole thing. Point by point analysis is rare in discussing the Iraq war. For example, an entry over at Daily Kos today suggests:
The Times wonders what Bush’s cause was. Easy to explain, if not easy to achieve: to help foster a constitutional government in the place of a genocidal regime that had engaged in a de facto war with the United States since 1991, and harbored or subsidized terrorists like Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, at least one plotter of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida affiliates in Kurdistan, and suicide bombers in Gaza and the West Bank. It was a bold attempt to break with the West’s previous practices, both liberal (appeasement of terrorists) and conservative (doing business with Saddam, selling arms to Iran, and overlooking the House of Saud’s funding of terrorists).
Is that cause in fact “lost”? The vast majority of 160,000 troops in harm’s way don’t think so—despite a home front where U.S. senators have publicly compared them with Nazis, Stalinists, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, and Saddam Hussein’s jailers, and where the media’s Iraqi narrative has focused obsessively on Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and serial leaks of classified information, with little interest in the horrific nature of the Islamists in Iraq or the courageous efforts of many Iraqis to stop them.
The Iraq War is the worst foreign policy blunder in a generation. It's the GOP's war, and it's Bush's war. If they don't face up to that reality, and at least start preparing their base for the inevitable, they run the risk that 2008 will turn out to be 2006 on steroids. And, you know, it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of ideologues.Ideologues? It takes one to know one! I doubt the Kos crowd will take the time to respond, point by point, to Hanson's analysis.