Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Random Comments

A few comments that are worth linking to:

First Victor Davis Hanson responds to an angry reader:

Q: Mr. Hanson:
Iraq , Lebanon , and the West Bank are a mess and show the failures of the Bush neocons. Aren't you ashamed of yourself for throwing your lot in with these losers?

Hanson's answer: What a flawed question!

So let me answer at first by just posing a few of my own. Was Saddam's Iraq or Arafat's West Bank, or the last 20 years in Lebanon quiet? Did Clinton 's operation Desert Fox, no-fly-zones, or response to bombings from New York to Yemen make us safer? Was Oslo the answer to the Middle East ? Did you object to an Iraqi elected Prime Minister addressing Congress - preferring instead perhaps Tariq Aziz? And did Hezbollah suddenly arm itself during the Bush administration, or in fact snub its nose at the U.N. and the U.S. for years?

What we have now is at least clarity. We know now after Gaza and Lebanon that the Middle East problem in not about occupied land; we know there is no such thing as a "moderate" wing of Hezbollah or Hamas. We know it does no good to sit on the tarmac in Damascus and beg Syria to be nice. And we know Arabs, if given a chance, for example in Iraq , will risk their lives to fight for their own democracy against terrorism.

Finally, we know that the world knows it is a dangerous thing to attack the United States - unlike the sorry state of affairs from 1979 to 2001. As far as necons - what does that mean now other than a phony slur about Jews? Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz, etc. are the new bogeymen along with the resurrection of the old slur that we are fighting Israel 's battles. In fact, Israel is more likely fighting our cause against Islamists. And what does "neocon" mean, other than "new conservative," or in the realm of foreign policy, offering something a little bit more sincere than the old realpolitik?

And this from TallDave, who would probably be happy to know that he is sharing billing with Hanson, even if it is just on my blog. This anecdotal, but I've been hearing more and more the sentiments along the lines of "I would have (or did) support the war in Iraq, but I think we just went about it the wrong way." Sorry, I find that kind of argument juvenile and unconstructive. Dave explains in this comment:

There's a fallacy of omnipotence endemic to Iraq analysis, which constantly assumes "Oh, if the coalition had just done things differently, things would be better," generally based on specious reasoning. All of the problems Iraq has would almost certainly have arisen regardless of our actions.

And things could be a hell of a lot worse. Shias could have risen up en masse against the Coalition. Iraqis could have demanded theocracy and rejected democracy instead of turning out in shocking numbers to vote. Sunnis could have refused to participate in the gov't. Kurds could have demanded partition. Shias and Kurds could have officially organized massive death squads and executed hundreds of thousands of Sunnis in retaliation for the slaughter they experienced. Iraq could be ruled by a dictator instead of an elected assembly. All of those things were predicted by people who are allegedly serious observers.

Things to remember:

1) Most importantly, there is no force representing a serious military threat to the current gov't. Attacks are deadly, but barely above nuisance-level in strategic terms, and not remotely in the league of ability to topple a gov't. It would be nearly impossible to "lose the war."

2) Iraq has a dramatically increased measure of political freedom (from the bottom to around 5 on the IPF scale, making it one of the freest countries in the Mideast). This is constantly forgotten or minimized. Under Saddam there could be no women's rights groups, no free press, no right to free speech.

3) The violence Iraqis experience today, even at its worst, does not compare to the Saddam era when an average of 50,000 to 100,000 people per year were killed and four wars were started by the regime


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