September 27, 2003

"We Told You So" Is Our Line

David Gelernter from The Weekly Standard, on the need for Bush and the U.S. to proudly stand on the moral justification for the liberation of Iraq. Excerpts:

"All over Europe people are saying to America, 'We told you so!'"--thus a smugly serious European journalist on American TV. You would think any American in earshot would have been hard to hold down--"How dare you, cowards?" No, Iraq is no picnic to pacify and rebuild, yes some of us did romanticize the Iraqis beforehand, no we have not found WMDs. But we have found torture cells, execution sites, mass graves; and the moral significance of those swamps all the rest. Wasn't that the whole point of the 20th century?

Was our intervention pragmatically right, was it essential in self-defense? Yes; but reasonable people can differ. Was it morally right? No one can dispute that. No one who has ever had the faintest brush with moral reality can fail to answer yes... With the discovery of those torture cells and mass graves, the moral question was closed forever: We were right to fight. Europe should be reeling, backpedaling, apologizing. "We told you so!" is our line...

The president needs to attack his opponents head-on, on principle. Peace is good, but if you have to buy it by turning your backs on suffering--at least don't be proud of the fact. We're proud that we didn't. Yes, our intervention served a practical purpose too, but let's start with Morality 101. In Iraq we expected to find hard evidence of cruelty, terror, and mass murder, and we did find it, and we told you so. (And the best reason to say so is not to win over opponents but to buck up supporters.)....

...This is no time to wheedle or temporize. The administration's job is to make certain that, any time anyone anywhere ponders what we have not found (so far) in postwar Iraq, the very next thought is about what we have found. The program is simple: congressional hearings on the dictatorship we overthrew. Worldwide discussion of the Security Council and its permanent membership. And: first things first. In Iraq, the mass murder has stopped. We stopped it. The rest is a moral footnote.

Posted by dan at September 27, 2003 5:01 PM