October 25, 2003

Make My Day - "Fisk" VDH

I so look forward to Fridays. It's VDH day. Every week I read his column and feel the urge to throw out a challenge to nobody in particular; "Okay...rebut that!"

He reminds that there are lots of things we no longer have to worry about, having rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein:

the world is a far better place without the worry of Kurdish genocide, 10,000 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, perpetual no-fly zones, clumsy U.N. embargos, Abu Abbas loose, guided missiles and WMD programs in Iraq, blood money for suicide bombers, exasperation that Saddam Hussein had violated 1991 agreements, SCUDs raining down on Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv, assassination plots against American presidents, and so on.

He forgot to mention political opponents being fed feet first into industrial shredders, but let's forgive him that oversight. Hanson calls the liberation of Iraq "the event of the age", not only because of the geopolitical importance of a free, democratic Iraq in the middle of the Middle East, but because of what it will demonstrate to the rest of the world about the true nature of the United States:

Millions are slowly learning how different the United States is from its critics in Europe. France will threaten the awful regime in Libya but only about matters of monetary recompense, in the same manner that money led both it and Germany to trade with Saddam Hussein after 1991 and haggle over oil concessions for the next half century. Neither state would remove a dictator, much less pledge lives and nearly $90 billion to create a democracy in the Middle East. All that is too concrete, too absolute, too unsophisticated for the philosophes, who would always prefer slurring a democracy to castigating some third-world bloody ideologue.

The prospect of an American "success" in Iraq is as disquieting to George Bush's political opponents at home as it is to those in France and Germany whose Iraqi business interests with the dictator were disrupted by the messy liberation.

The old notion of Democratic idealism is in shambles. Unless Democratic contenders can come up with alternative plans for Iraq or explain exactly why some of them once made a mistake in voting for the war, then their constant carping will remain just that, and will become embarrassingly shrill in the months ahead....

....Removing dictators and implanting democracies, after all, used to be just as much a Democratic idea as was the use of force to ensure national security in a world of dangerous and criminal tyrants. But now the sorry crop of would-be presidents resembles Republican antiwar contenders circa early 1939, who would have been outraged had we agreed to join Britain in stopping a nascent Hitler in Poland and France.

What's riding on the outcome in Iraq?

For some reason or another, a series of enormously important issues — the future of the Middle East, the credibility of the United States as both a strong and a moral power, the war against the Islamic fundamentalists, the future of the U.N. and NATO, our own politics here at home — now hinge on America's efforts at creating a democracy out of chaos in Iraq. That is why so many politicians — in the U.N., the EU, Germany, France, the corrupt Middle East governments, and a host of others — are so strident in their criticism, so terrified that in a postmodern world the United States can still recognize evil, express moral outrage, and then sacrifice money and lives to eliminate something like Saddam Hussein and leave things far better after the fire and smoke clear. People, much less states, are not supposed to do that anymore in a world where good is a relative construct, force is a thing of the past, and the easy life is too precious to be even momentarily interrupted. We may expect that, a year from now, the last desperate card in the hands of the anti-Americanists will be not that Iraq is democratic, but that it is democratic solely through the agency of the United States — a fate worse than remaining indigenously murderous and totalitarian.

The prospect of history coming to regard George W. Bush as a liberator, a hero, and a pivotal 21st Century figure is obviously so repellant to European and American leftists, that even the continuance of Saddam's murderous regime might have been a preferable alternative. For them, a free Iraq will be just one embarrassing reminder of their utter irrelevance in the course of events. As for Bush, a free Iraq will be his legacy, and its importance should become clearer with the passage of time.

But if present behavior predicts future behavior, around the time that Iraq is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its independence, Hollywood will trot out a new "docu-drama", perhaps starring Sean Penn as GWB, portraying a "silver spoon" aristocrat abusing alcohol, driving drunk, stealing an election (or two), bullying the world, and then evangelizing his way through two hubristic White House terms. Meanwhile in Baghdad, they'll be polishing his statue in the plaza once a year in preparation for George Bush Day.

Posted by dan at October 25, 2003 1:23 AM