Wednesday, April 16, 2008

They Still Don't Get It

I don't understand why our Left insists invading Iraq was a mistake, arguing that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The president never made that connection. And that was never the reason for war with Iraq.

Invading Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban was about retaliating for 9/11. We did that successfully before 2001 was over. And remember that elements of our Left opposed that invasion, too. They wanted ceasefires and international tribunals--anything but military action to defend ourselves.

The Iraq War was all about preventing the next 9/11. The president's state of the union address in January 2002 made this goal clear:

Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight. (Applause.)

We are working with allies to contain North Korea and keep them from exporting nuclear technology and reverse their nuclear programs; working with allies to halt Iranian weapons projects using sanctions while working on missile defense; and we have ended the regime of Saddam Hussein whose hatred for us, support for terrorism, desire for nuclear weapons, and resources made him a prime threat to enable a future 9/11 against us.

The idea that it was a mistake to invade Iraq and take out this threat just because al Qaeda invaded a free Iraq after the fall of Saddam is ridiculous. Why would al Qaeda have invaded Saddam's Iraq which was a friend that hosted jihadis and that even offered a safe haven for some of their terrorists in northern Iraq after we destroyed their Taliban host? Was it therefore a mistake to destroy the Taliban regime since that caused bin Laden to look for a new place to call home and to start his caliphate in Iraq?

Going further back, we defeated the Soviet Union, in part, by stressing their system with the cost of fighting in Afghanistan through support of resistance fighters. Would it have been better to keep the Soviet Union around than to have the problem of the Taliban after we defeated Moscow?

We defeated the Taliban which led al Qaeda to flee Afghanistan and--after we turned Iraq from a friend of al Qaeda to an enemy--invade Iraq. Would it have been better to leave Iraq intact under Saddam who would continue to support terrorism, pursue WMD, and threaten the Gulf states? When you consider that by fighting and beating al Qaeda in Iraq we've broken the spell bin Laden had over the Arab and Moslem street, how would we have accomplished this with special forces and aircraft launching occasional strikes against targets in Pakistan?

And would it really be better to give up now when we are inflicting a global defeat on al Qaeda by smashing them in Iraq and exposing their nature to the Arab world? Would it really be better to let Iran use Iraq as a playground for their own killers?

War is not neat and clean. Which is why it should not be started lightly. But we have achieved much over the last several decades in defeating threats to our nation. And we have freed hundreds of millions from tyranny to give them a chance at freedom. Some are taking the opportunity (Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, Ukraine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, for example) while others are throwing it away (Russia, for example).

Once the Taliban were defeated, the war switched from being about 9/11 to being about stopping the next 9/11. That's why it will be a Long War that will not be completed on President Bush's watch.

And the repercussions of halting before victory should be too horrible to contemplate.

UPDATE: And if we halt the Long War, retreating to a law enforcement approach sprinkled with cruise missiles and magical strike forces, this assessment offered to Congress that Washington, D.C. will be nuked may likely be true:

"It's inevitable," said Cham E. Dallas, director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia, who has charted the potential explosion's effect in the District and testified before a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "I think it's wistful to think that it won't happen by 20 years."

This scenario is only inevitable if we don't fight.