Why We’re In Iraq And Why We’ll Stay

OpinionJournal: We Won’t Back Down: The real reason we’re in Iraq–and why we we’ll stay.
Steven Den Beste is writing for The Journal again, this time explaining why we’re in Iraq, and he’s doing a fine job of it.

We’re doing a makeover of the Middle East in the only country we could start with given the norms of diplomacy: Iraq. They had been in violation of a cease-fire agreement for twelve years giving us casus belli starting about ninety days after the cease fire was signed. It was a great failure of the original Bush presidency that we didn’t enforce the agreement while he was still in office, but 9/11 hadn’t occurred. We had not seen the potential harm that radical Islamists posed to the “Great Satan”. In short, we were willing to mess around with Saddam, maintain no-fly zones and have inspections that went into infinity because we saw no harm in it.

Then came 9/11. Iraq, because they were in violation of the cease-fire agreement and had WMD that were unaccounted for, provided us with an opportunity to further our security over the long term and destroy a dictator in the process. In addition we will introduce liberal democracy and freedom to the Middle East, or as close as we can get, again furthering our own security over the long term. And the Iraqi people get to avoid industrial plastic shredders and shallow graves.

Not a bad deal for all concerned, considering the circumstances.

Opponents of American foreign policy in Iraq are attempting to focus the entire debate on one small and extremely unimportant event. They’re trying to claim that the inclusion of one specific sentence in this year’s State of the Union address is the total political issue, and since that sentence appears to have been based on faulty intelligence, they are trying to claim that this somehow shakes the entire foundation of the case for war.

In fact, the real reason we went into Iraq was precisely to “nation build”: to create a secularized, liberated, cosmopolitan society in a core Arab nation. To create a place where Arabs were free and safe and unafraid and happy and successful and not ruled by corrupt monarchs or brutal dictators. This would demonstrate to the other people in the Arab and Muslim worlds that they can succeed, but only if they abandon those political, cultural and religious chains that are holding them back.

We are not doing this out of altruism. We are not trying to give them a liberalized Western democracy because we’re evangelistic liberal democrats (with both liberal and democrat taking historical meanings). We are bringing reform to Iraq out of narrow self-interest. We have to foster reform in the Arab/Muslim world because it’s the only real way in the long run to make them stop trying to kill us.

So why did George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in making the case for war, put so much emphasis on U.N. resolutions and weapons of mass destruction? Honesty and plain speaking are not virtues for politicians and diplomats. If either Mr. Bush or Mr. Blair had said what I did, it would have hit the fan big-time. Making clear a year ago that this was our true agenda would have virtually guaranteed that it would fail. Among other things, it would have caused all of the brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs in the region to unite with Saddam against us, and would have made the invasion impossible. But now the die is cast, and said brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs no longer have the ability to stop the future.

One hopes he is right and we do succeed.

UPDATE 07/26/2003: I don’t know how I missed this — well, not reading my daily dose of Cold Fury will do it — but Mike has an excellent post that covers this and several other issues where the right in this country — that would be me — is not happy with Bush on a number of issues.

I did have the opportunity to talk with Mike a little over a week ago and we had a great conversation. Speaking as a barefoot stump-jumper from Mississippi, he’s pretty smart for a slope-browed Ridge-runner from North Carolina.

Of course, if you’ve been reading his site you know that already.

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment