Victor David Hanson takes on critics of the surge in his latest article for NRO:
Just as journalists, generals, and politicians rush to get into print another tell-all, I-know-the-answers book about the “disaster” in Iraq, so too in the 1990s the mini-Middle East publishing industry used to be devoted to equally furious attacks on realism, neo-isolation, and cynicism of Republicans and conservatives for an array of sins — sacrificing the Kurds and Shiites, not supporting Democratic reformers abroad, leaving Saddam in power, failing to prod Gulf sheikdoms to liberalize, cynically prodding on the Iran-Iraq war, etc.
What is lost, then, in the present pre-election hysteria and the repositioning on Iraq, is that there were never any good American choices in the Middle East. The present ones in Iraq and Afghanistan came about only from 9/11 and a general consensus that the failures of the past had led to that mass murder — and thus a new course of action was needed to replace both the liberal appeasement and conservative realism that had worked in the interest of bin Ladenism.
This is very true of course. They only strategy that has not been used yet (recently) is isolationism. The problem for the US is that it cannot just withdraw from the Middle East (too many financial interests) and that doing so would backfire as well.
Hanson goes on to write:
Our present policy, however poorly managed in postbellum Iraq, arose as a reaction both to the do-nothingism of past administrations, which, by general consensus, had emboldened al Qaeda to up its ante on 9/11, and the decades of amoral realism that propped up thugs and dictators who ruined their societies but blamed the ensuing mess on Americans and Jews.
After 9/11, we did not, as alleged, invade countries serially, but removed only two fascistic governments, the worst in the Middle East — both with a record of supporting enemies of the United States, and both of whom we had bombed or sent missiles against in the very recent past…
If both governments can be stabilized even at this late date, the landscape in the Middle East from Lebanon to the West Bank will be much improved; if not, much worse. For those who wish to give up the struggle in Iraq, go home, and stay clear of the Middle East, a final question: What would Mr. Assad in Syria, al Qaeda in Iraq, President Ahmadinejad in Iran, or Hamas and Hezbollah wish us to do — and why?
It would be nice to go back to our pre-9/11 past, just as in a bloody 1944 the calm of 1937 looked to many of the starry-eyed far preferable, just as in the midst of the nuclear stand-off of 1962 we lamented the loss of the old “friendly” Russia and China of 1945.
But while our ancestors engaged in the same despair, the same blame-gaming that we so enjoy, they at least were not stupid enough to lose those far more deadly and dangerous wars. We can win like they did as well, but only if we face the future with confidence, and not pine for the return of a mythical past that never was.
Of course there is one problem: what if you believe that the war is lost in so far that Iraq will not become a stable democracy for quite some years to come (say 10)? Of course, we must than also ask what withdrawal would accomplish.
As I see it, realism is needed right now. The middle way is the best option right now. Total withdrawal will result in genocide. Leaving 150,000 troops in Iraq is impossible and will not accomplish much… The US can only hope to limit the damage.
And yes, for that, we need realists. The idealists had their chance, lets get realists in to clean up the mess.
I would – once again – like to thank all of you for treating me with great respect here. I greatly, greatly appreciate it; it has been – and still is – a pleasure to post here and to read your comments. It almost makes me want to force Pamela to stay away from blogging a couple of months longer than she originally planned.
Truly: it is a blessing for me to post here.