Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Iraq War Revisited

Typical. Just as I finish my magnum opus on the Bush Administration's case for liberating Iraq, I see this post from Instapundit. Apparently, Sylvester Brown, Jr, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist whose Thursday piece inspired my essay, has written a second column addressing his rather abysmal memory. Mr. Brown is apparently quite determined that no actual facts will get in the way of his preexisting prejudices:

The bloggers were partly correct. Bush has mentioned that a Saddam-free world and a democratic Iraq would have a ripple effect in the Middle East. But let's be honest, he mentioned those as the perks of war, not the reasons for war. And who could blame him? According to a 2003 Washington Post-ABC poll before Bush's speech, six out of 10 Americans harbored doubts about using force in Iraq. A solid 40 percent opposed any sort of invasion in the country. Bush played the "democracy" card lightly and the WMD card with a skillful hand.

As I have just finished writing about at length, the Bush Administration cited numerous reasons for going to war against Saddam. The WMD issue was cited more prominently than others. Still, all of these reasons were tied together by one essential fact: the barbarous nature of Saddam's totalitarian autocracy. It wasn't WMD in the abstract that was the threat; it was WMD in the hands of Saddam, who had used them against both the Iranians and to murder thousands of his own people, that was the issue. The same with Iraq's substantial support for terrorism, fostering of radical Sunni Islamism, exploitation of the Oil-for-Food program, defiance of numerous UN resolutions, shooting at US and allied aircraft, and horrific human rights record. All were simply manifestations of what Iraqi intellectual Kanan Makiya has called Saddam's "Republic of Fear". As President Bush pointed out in his October 7, 2002 speech on Iraq, it was the nature of the Iraqi Baathist regime that was the true problem.

But, hey, war over WMDs or war over democracy, let's not quibble. People hear what they want to hear. As a straight shooter, I have to confess my bias toward our government's new democracy delivery system. This is a country that 40 years ago restricted the right to vote, use public facilities or eat in restaurants to some of its citizens. It's a country with a long-standing record of supporting autocratic regimes and dictatorships and overthrowing democratically elected government officials around the world.

Ah, yes, the reactionary attitude typical of all too many post-Vietnam liberals. Since America's history is far from spotless, it must a priori be in the wrong, regardless of the actual circumstances of the case. BTW, the America of 60 years ago was even more flawed. Does Mr. Brown therefore believe that the USA was no better than the Third Reich or Imperial Japan?

When did the United States become the chief exporter of democracy to the Arab world?

This one's easy: September 12, 2001.

Sorry, bloggers. When it comes to regime change and nation-building, I can't follow the wisdom of Bush and his crew. I lean more toward the words of a real straight shooter, Mohandas Gandhi:

"The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within."

Yes, which is why all those images of horrible American GIs brutally dragging unhappy Iraqi voters to the polls on January 30th were so shocking. The Iraqis were so much happier when the word "elections" meant that they just had to check the "yes" box next to the name Saddam Hussein.

BTW, I can show you exactly what would have happened to Gandhi if he had had the pleasure of living under Saddam. Just click here.

On a serious note, Instapundit puts it better than I can:

The difference is, the United States didn't give the Iraqis the spirit of democracy. As they demonstrated on January 30, it was already there. We just cleared the way -- something that would never have happened if Brown had gotten his druthers. And it seems to me that the gravamen of Brown's point is that the United States is so morally deficient that it could hardly be credited with doing good on purpose.

I'm glad he's wrong about that, too.


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