Saturday, June 06, 2009

What We Could Have Chosen

The president admits that Iraqis are better off for our having destroyed Saddam's regime. Yet he continues to believe it was a war of choice.

Ah yes, we chose not to ignore Saddam's refusal to verify he was no longer pursuing WMD (and does anybody doubt he'd have at least poison gas today if still in power?).

We chose not to ignore his development of banned long-range missiles.

We chose not to ignore his harboring of terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.

We chose not to ignore his brutal repression of his own people.

We chose not to ignore his refusal to release or account for Kuwaitis, other foreign nationals, and an American pilot held by them in 1990-1991.

We chose not to take the chance that Saddam would use chemical weapons yet again.

We chose not to ignore Iraq's attempt to kill former president George H. W. Bush.

We chose not to just continue to live with Iraqi firing on Coalition aircraft enforcing no-fly zones.

We chose not to accept the risk that Saddam would provide more lethal help to terrorists that would make 9/11 seem like a skirmish.

We chose not to ignore Saddam's refusal to abide by the UN resolutions that accompanied the cease fire of 1991.

The Iraqis are happy we chose to free them and then defend them from Iranian and Syrian aggression in the years that followed.

In short, we chose to actually do something about a regime so threatening to world peace that our Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, legislation in 1998 making the overthrow of the Saddam regime our official policy.

Truly, there were many reasons for choosing to destroy Saddam's regime.

We chose to defend our interests by getting rid of Saddam and also by fighting the al Qaeda and Iranian proxy invasion that followed. Maybe one day, critics of the war such as the president will accept that we and the entire world are also better off with a free and friendly Iraq (bizarrely, the anti-war side only believes Iran benefited from the destruction of Saddam's regime, as if only Stalin benefited from the destruction of Hitler's regime).

I guess, strictly speaking Iraq was a war of choice. Iraq didn't directly attack us (other than shooting at our planes during the 1990s on a regular basis). But so too is the war in Afghanistan under that logic. Remember that many on the Left wanted a nice UN-supervised trial of Osama bin Laden (in abstentia since nobody would have forced the Taliban to hand him over) and opposed war there. Even as we waged war they urged a ceasefire to negotiate. Only the Iraq War transformed Afghanistan into the "good war" for our Left. And without Iraq, Afghanistan is already losing its aura of goodness among our left. And don't even try to pretend that Afghanistan was ever accepted in the Moslem world as a justified American war against a Moslem government.

You can always choose not to fight a war. War is always a choice, really. Indeed, during the Cold War, I read an article in one political science class about how even a Soviet invasion of America should be met with massive and unified passive resistance rather than relying on our military to prevent such an invasion. That author believed defending ourselves even in that situation was a "war of choice." My worry is that our Left and those who travel with them on foreign affairs always believe defending ourselves is a choice.

They choose not to defend America. And Iraq is just another one of their choices.