|Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act|
Monday, April 05, 2004
Written by: Dave
Our six or seven loyal readers probably know that I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. My experience in Iraq reinforced my support for the war, and I am proud that I served there. I realize that if my experience there had been slightly different, my opinions on the war might differ. I am certain, however, that I would still be very unhappy with how the media is reporting the war. There are many in the media, motivated by their dislike of Bush and their belief that bad news sells better than good, doing their best to distort a difficult and trying situation in Iraq into something worse than it is.
It also doesn't help that the Bush administration is doing a lousy job of arguing the case for our involvement. It makes for an ugly combination - a media establishment deliberately undermining our efforts, and an administration incapable of articulately defending them. That's why those of us who believe in the war should remind ourselves and others of the reasons that justify it.
In addition to the many humanitarian reasons that justified taking out Saddam, I believe there are four main reasons why the U.S. was right to invade and occupy Iraq.
1. Saddam was a danger to the U.S. and to the world.
Saddam hated America, supported terrorists, and wanted to be the next Saladin. The greatest source of his prestige and standing in the region was his opposition to the United States.
He demonstrated time after time that he wasn't simply interested in self preservation -- but had much bigger and more nefarious plans. If you have ever been to one of his palaces, you know that he isn't what you would a "rational actor".
Saddam also had the means (terrorists and long-range missiles) and the demonstrated will to use WMD. As I explained in an earlier post, some WMD are actually quite easy to produce, and the critical limitation is not their production, but their delivery.
Even disregarding the WMD, Saddam's active support for terrorists made him dangerous to the United States. Those who argue that his links to Al Qaeda were weak ignore the fact that we are threatened not only by Al Qaeda, but by a global network of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations. Saddam's sheltering of al-Zarqawi is an all too clear case in point.
2. Defeating Saddam and occupying Iraq has provided the U.S. with strategic leverage against terrorism's supporters.
Now that we have defeated Saddam, our enemies in the region's governments know two things: (a) we take out bad guys when we say we will, and (b) we are not too far away. This is the best tool we have to influence the region in the very near future, and to prevent countries from sheltering terrorist networks.
The only motivation the despotic regimes in the region have to cooperate with us is fear. Contrast the behavior of Saudi Arabia and Libya during the Clinton years with their behavior now. Their increased cooperation is not a sudden burst of goodwill, but a response to the fact that this administration carries through on its word.
Some will argue that Iran and Syria's attempts to undermine our efforts in Iraq are evidence that the opposite effect has been achieved. On the contrary, this is actually evidence of Iran and Syria's realization that when we achieve stability in Iraq, they will be in an untenable position. They are desperate for our failure.
3. Fighting terrorists in Iraq is better than fighting them in Iowa.
What do you think al-Zarqawi would be doing if he wasn't busy trying to murder American troops and Iraqi women and children? Do you really think that if we had stopped at the borders of Afghanistan, that all the terrorists in the world would have declared game over and gone home?
Many of the terrorists we are now fighting in Iraq would instead be hiding out in other countries planning attacks on American civilians. I'll admit that our invasion of Iraq probably has helped their recruiting efforts in the short run, but there wasn't a shortage of terrorists before the invasion. At the same time, we are also killing and capturing a lot of those terrorists in Iraq. Many don't realize that foreign Jihadists were in Iraq even before the war started, and have been getting routinely schwacked since we invaded. More importantly, as I will soon explain, success in Iraq will be the best damper on recruitment in the long run.
Still, every time another Coalition member dies in Iraq, I feel as if someone I know had died. Having served in the military, it's not just another statistic, but a person to whom I can easily attach a face and a personality. It makes it really hard to read the news.
At the same time I remind myself that our troops are much better prepared to confront terrorists than American schoolchildren are. If you don't think that's who the terrorists in Iraq would be going after otherwise, you really have forgotten 9/11.
4. Our long-term success in Iraq would be a disaster for the terrorists.
As long as we continue to live in a world economy, we will be vulnerable to terrorism. To defeat terrorism we must defeat the twisted hope that feeds it, and replace it with a different kind of hope.
Imagine what type of person becomes a terrorist. He's probably someone frustrated by the repression and hopelessness of his home country, looking for something exciting in his life, something that gives him an identity, a sense of mission, and an enemy to defeat. For the Jihadist, that enemy is the West, because its success is a constant reminder of his home country's failure.
The terrorist's self-esteem is bound to his identity as a Jihadist, and so it is essential that he perceives his mission as winnable. In the Arab mind this is especially true, as strength is respected more than justice.
When we defeated Saddam, a message was sent, America is strong, and your despots are weak. As we defeat the terrorists in Iraq, an even more important message is sent, America is strong, and terrorism is a hopeless effort. That was the implicit fear exposed in al-Zarqawi's intercepted message to Al Qaeda -- that if the terrorists lost in Iraq, it would be a moral defeat that they could not recover from.
Unfortunately, this pyschological battle has become a stalemate, as Spain's retreat is perceived by terrorists as proof not only that terrorism pays, but that they can defeat a Western country. At the same time, they would interpret a victory for Kerry as another great victory over the West won by their attacks in Iraq.
So we cannot relent. We must finish the job right in Iraq.
I am not one of those people who expect a McDonald's on every Iraqi street corner any time soon. But I do think that Iraq can become a significantly better place than its neighboring countries. When Iraqis can safely speak their mind, choose a real occupation, and have hope for the future, Arabs throughout the region will know that there is something else to provide meaning besides Jihad, and that instead of trying to tear down other nations, they can build up their own.
Many don't believe that Iraq will ever embrace this change. Those people have probably never been to Iraq. If they had, they would know that for every blood thirsty Fallujan or raving Sadr, there are five Iraqis who don't want the Coalition to leave, and who believe that things are getting better and will continue to get better. In the end, these Iraqis are going to matter more than the terrorists.
I believe in the arguments I just outlined. Nonetheless, I still lose sleep debating the merits of the war. Every time I hear of another Coalition member or innocent Iraqi killed, I understand why so many people oppose the war.
But what I don't understand is how so many people in the media and the Democratic Party can want us to fail in Iraq, but still consider themselves Patriots. Opposition to Bush and his policy in Iraq is not an excuse for distorting the situation on the ground and ignoring the successes our servicemen and others are achieving in Iraq.
So please, everytime you hear another discouraging report from Iraq, remember, there is another story you aren't hearing, a story of hope and progress.
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