Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Winning in Iraq. How about at home? VDH.

Victor Davis Hanson is back from Iraq and here is one of his best: "At War With Ourselves: We're winning in Iraq. Let's not lose at home."

If many are determined to see the Iraqi war as lost without a plan, it hardly seems so to 130,000 U.S. soldiers still over there. They explain to visitors that they have always had a design: defeat the Islamic terrorists; train a competent Iraqi military; and provide requisite time for a democratic Iraqi government to garner public support away from the Islamists.

We point fingers at each other; soldiers under fire point to their achievements: Largely because they fight jihadists over there, there has not been another 9/11 here. Because Saddam is gone, reform is not just confined to Iraq, but taking hold in Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf. We hear the military is nearly ruined after conducting two wars and staying on to birth two democracies; its soldiers feel that they are more experienced and lethal, and on the verge of pulling off the nearly impossible: offering a people terrorized from nightmarish oppression something other than the false choice of dictatorship or theocracy — and making the U.S. safer for the effort. [Emphases added.]

The secretary of defense, like officers in Iraq, did not welcome the war, but felt that it needed to be fought and will be won. Soldiers and civilian planners express confidence in eventual success, but with awareness of often having only difficult and more difficult choices after Sept. 11. Put too many troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we earn the wages of imperialism, or create a costly footprint that is hard to erase, or engender a dependency among the very ones in whom we wish to ensure self-reliance. Yet deploy too few troops, and instability arises in Kabul and Baghdad, as the Islamists lose their fear of American power and turn on the vulnerable we seek to protect.

In sum, after talking to our soldiers in Iraq and our planners in Washington, what seems to me most inexplicable is the war over the war — not the purported absence of a plan, but that the more we are winning in the field, the more we are losing it at home.

1 comment:

Elephant in my Coffee said...

What a great article! It really hits the nail on the head.