A common complaint from the Left, is that George W. Bush is pursuing an American Empire, a “New World Order” as envisioned by his father with Americans running everything. While I admit that there is a certain logic and nationalistic appeal to that notion, I must be clear that such claims fail to understand the nature of the contention, that the United States is pursuing goals not for its sole benefit, but for the welfare of everyone concerned.
I mentioned in an article yesterday, that people love Conspiracy theories, and the War in Iraq has certainly seen its share of supposed plots. It needs to be understood, however, that the other side has their own plots, which are in this matter quite real and important to understand as a point of reference for planning. The War in Iraq was necessary and critical to U.S. interests for four strategic reasons:
The Consensus of the Intelligence Community, was that Saddam Hussein held stockpiles of WMD and was likely to use such weapons unless he was removed by force. The Conventional Wisdom of the modern day laughs at this point, but when the decision was cast in 2003, the best available information from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Intelligence Service, the DGSE, SVR, Mossad, and BND all concurred that Iraq was building up WMD stockpiles, and presented a threat to the region because of it. While the Left sniggers at the lack of discovered stockpiles, this to me is a serious concern, since the expectation of such stockpiles came not from political advocacy of such a finding, but from the available evidence, testimony from a number of sources, and of course from the historical proof – I have not forgotten the dead of Halabja, killed by confirmed WMD use by Saddam, or the nine other documented uses of WMD during the 1980s. Saddam was known to have WMD, and to use them. Further, one should recall that at the end of the first Gulf War, inspectors were stunned to find Iraq’s Nuclear Weapons program much further along than anyone had expected. I am frankly suspicious of cross-border traffic in early 2003 between Iraq and Iran, and between Iraq and Syria. I am suspicious of how quickly Iran was able to enrich uranium, and what, exactly, may be buried in Syria. I am also reminded of tales about things dumped into the rivers just before the Americans arrived, so that people preferred to travel long distances to wells rather than risk using river water. My point is not to contend any particular claim, except to remind the reader that the Intelligence Services had pretty much all reached the same conclusion from the evidence (later contrary assertions were just that, political backtracking after the fact), and in that context, action was the appropriate decision.
Iraq represented a threat to the region, and to the United States. The Baath Party represented the wing of extremist nationalism for Arabs in the mold of Nasser. A lot of people do not realize, even now, that the Baath party extended beyond one country, and effectively represented Arab’s version of Socialism. Regime change in Iraq had been official policy for the United States since 1998; the official act noted twelve distinct reasons why Saddam should be removed from power, including the use of Chemical Weapons, multiple attempts to invade neighboring countries, an attempt to assassinate President G.H.W. Bush, and the deliberate violation of cease-fire terms. In the context of a post-9/11 world, this policy rose in significance and urgency.
Iraq was a known supporter of international terrorism. Following the first Gulf War, some of the documents discovered revealed that Iraq had commissioned attacks on allied governments by terrorist groups. Also, even after the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein continued to maintain and cultivate ties with known terrorist groups, for the purpose of destabilizing the region. Abu Nidal was found in Iraq. So was Carlos the Jackal. And the same with Abu Abbas, who masterminded the Achille Lauro hijacking. The U.S. Joint Forces Command released a report which noted that Iraqi Intelligence paid for and even helped supply a “Division 27” camp which trained terrorists between 1994 and 2003, along with several other camps specializing in terrorism. Fighting the war on International Terrorism, therefore, required invading Iraq.
But there is yet another level to the decision, which a lot of people never touch in thought. The rise of Jihadism in the Middle East has been a growing threat for several decades, and the best course to stopping Jihadism is to counter it with Democracy. That’s right, George W. Bush wanted Democracy in the Middle East from the beginning of his Presidency. From a February 2000 interview with Jim Lehrer, Bush stated:
“the region tends to be a place where weapons of mass destruction or the proliferation of terrorist activities seem to be emanating from, and it's important for us to recognize that.”
And when it was clear that the U.S.-led Coalition would be forced to invade Iraq in 2003, Bush explained his reasons:
“The safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat. Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world. The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions”
In answer to the claim that the Middle East could not support Democracy, President Bush was resolute:
“There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken.”
In actual fact, President Bush is once again ahead of the curve. He understood the root causes of the first Gulf War, and so set his plans for the war he saw coming, even though he could not know the way in which it would begin. Accordingly, by the time fools like Ahmadinejad began to make their play, they found their ambitions already blocked by the crafty Texan. None of the key aggressor states, whether Iran or Syria or anyone else, can move without hitting a trip wire, and the U.S. forces in the region have repeatedly shown they are more than up to the challenge of any extant forces. Any country determined to mount a Jihad in the style of Big Moe would therefore be compelled to demonstrate itself the offender in a war of conquest. Yes, Iran thinks to gain Nuclear Weapons, but I suspect the country already has them and is now discovering that they are not the trump card to their ambitions. Worse for the Iranian government, the U.S. is engaged in the sort of warfare which the Jihad finds hardest to fight – the debate of ideals in countless internet and university forums, and in the world marketplace where a person of intelligence and integrity can easily find a niche better suited for him than anything a Mullah can offer, at least the ones whose only answer is violence.
In Judo, you use your opponent’s own size and weight against him. For a long time, our enemies practiced this against the United States, but Dubs is a leader who understands how to make this work to the American advantage. So have a Coke and a smile, sit back in your Wrangler’s and remind your friends to vote Republican – it’s how we win, as a country and for the region as a whole.