Daily Archives: March 19, 2008

5 years in

It’s an article of faith among the left-wing of the Democratic Party, and a growing number of Republicans, that the Iraq War has been an unmitigated disaster. Although the five years of war that we commemorate today have been difficult, I am one of the dwindling number of Americans who continue to support our government and the goals we have tried to accomplish in the Mideast.

That doesn’t mean, however, that mistakes in strategy and execution have not been made. Clearly, faulty intelligence, and an attempt to save money and political capital caused our leaders to underestimate the number of troops needed to accomplish the task. Fortunately, the surge advocated by Sen. McCain was adopted and is turning the tide, something that opponents of the war seem blind to.

I said when this all started five years ago that we might not know for 500 years whether our intervention in this volatile region was a success. I don’t believe, however, that we really had any other choice but to challenge Islamic extremism in a direct and forceful way.

That extremism, and the terroism it employs, are the result of a fundamentally failed culture. The hatred that is loosed on Israel on a daily basis and that came to our shores on 9/11 has its origin in the self-loathing of the Arab world. Simply put, their lives are miserable. They have no economy, besides oil, no real education system or technolocy, no civil rights for women or anybody else.

Worst of all they have no freedom, and life under Saddam was the textbook example of that. Iraq before the invasion was a state in which a megalomaniac enforced absolute power by terrorizing the masses. Mass murder and torture were Saddam’s favorite pastimes.

Sure, there are other such states in the world, but none of them are sitting in such a strategic location in the middle of the world’s biggest oil fields. It is simply naive to think that doing anything other than protecting our vital economic interests in that part of the world is in our long-term best interest. Saddam had already invaded Iran and Kuwait, and if he was not poised to try again, eventually his sons would have.

It is for this reason that I will be unable to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, despite his many other charms. His candidacy is a welcome sign of hope for a post-racial society, but his international views are overly simplistic and unrealistic.

On the other hand, I deplore the right-wing “swift-boating” of his candidacy over the views of  his pastor, just as I deplore the racist campaign that Hillary’s surrogates have tried to gin up. In his brave speech yesterday, Obama has challenged all Americans to face the prejudice and racism that still thrives in our culture.

Having Obama serve as a major party nominee will send a great message to the world and to our own children. In a less dangerous world, it would be good for him to win. In the real world in which we live, however, with the real enemies that we face, we need a leader who is willing to stay the course in Iraq, even if it takes 5 more years.

If for nothing else, we owe that to all those who have sacrificed so much and even laid down their lives to bring us this far.