December 28, 2004

Hraka Rocks

Catching up a bit on some blog reading after the Christmas weekend, and Monday's family gathering, and this post by Bigwig at Silflay Hraka caught my eye. Now that pre-election concerns about helping the opposition are gone, the conservatives are airing their criticisms of the Bush Iraq policy more freely. Responding to a statement by Josh Marshall, Bigwig writes...

The reason "support for the war and the president who led us into it simply couldn't be pried apart" was not due to the blind partisanship of the Bush supporters, but rather to the dovish ineptness of the Kerry campaign. In November, thanks to the continued Democratic embrace of the anti-war Left, many American voters held the perception that, when it came to Iraq, they were not faced with a choice between differing strategies for winning the war so much as they had been given the decision to either continue the war or to abandon the effort completely.

Since the end of election, now that the biggest threat to bringing the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion has been defeated, American forces have been given at least another four years in which to succeed. Bush supporters no longer need to hold their tongues when it comes to critiquing the administration's conduct of the war. Frankly, in many minds, to have done so before November 2nd would have been nothing more than giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate on Bush's Iraq and broader Middle East policies needs to be louder, broader and saner. (This terrific piece by Reuel Marc Gerecht is a good place to start). As the critics on the right become more candid and outspoken, one hopes that the critics on the left can become less shrill, hyperbolic and dismissive of every administration action or statement. Starting perhaps with some acknowledgement that there were legitimate national security interests, along with the humanitarian ones, that justified regime change in Iraq. That Clinton administration policy, longstanding international condemnation, seventeen U.N. Resolutions, and an untenable status quo all made a compelling case for regime change.

If a fresh new debate on U.S. policy is to begin with participation from both the political left and right, is it not fair to assume a starting point that acknowledges that U.S. motives were not imperialistic or otherwise malign, and that the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq are manifestly better off today than they were under the two brutal regimes that we deposed. That Bush policies have made us safer from attacks by Al Qaeda and others sworn to our destruction by, among other things, tracking them down and capturing or killing them.

Isn't it now a "given" that France and Russia, our principal opponents in the U.N. Security Council, and the U.N. leadership itself, were all too compromised by Saddam's payoffs under Oil-For-Food to be credible in their opposition to regime change? That under these circumstances, U.N.S.C. Resolution 1441 had no chance of being enforced short of a U.S.-led action, and Bush had no chance of obtaining the final U.N. approval of an Iraq invasion in the bought-and-paid-for Security Council.

When we draw up the ground rules for the debate, can we first agree that the liberation of 50 million people and the assistance in creating a whole new system of self-governance for them are good and noble things to have accomplished?

Can we start this new and open debate on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with just a few acknowledgements on these points from the left? Or do we have to start back at "Bushitler", and go from there?

Posted by dan at December 28, 2004 1:04 AM