In fact, the war is going well. Just one week into a distant war against a durable dictatorship buttressed by interlocking instruments of terror, U.S. forces have moved more than 300 miles toward the capital. Iraq is not a “failed state” like Yugoslavia or Afghanistan, where, Gen. Wesley Clark believes, the Taliban was “the most incompetent adversary the United States has fought since the Barbary pirates.” Yet this war is demonstrating the U.S. military's astonishing flexibility, mobility, speed and precision. The oil fields have been saved. The war is on schedule toward certain victory. Yet two consequences of all combat --confusion and casualties -- have stirred a disproportionate public unease.
August 25, 2003:
Regarding the reconstruction of Iraq (when did the Reconstruction of the American South end? The 1870s? The 1970s?), the United States must resolve, as Victoria and Thatcher did, that the possibilities of defeat are unthinkable. This is necessary not because a happy Iraq, or a welcome cascade of political dominos, is or ever was likely in the near term. It is necessary because U.S. national security, meaning the war on terrorism and rogue regimes, must move on.
September 3, 2009:
After almost six and a half years, and 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded, with a war spiraling downward in Afghanistan, it would be indefensible for the U.S. military — overextended and in need of materiel repair and mental recuperation — to loiter in Iraq to improve the instincts of corrupt elites. If there is worse use of the U.S. military than “nation-building,” it is adult supervision and behavior modification of other peoples’ politicians.
When Republicans wage wars and engage in nation-building, we must persevere, failure is not an option, and those who question it are, at best, suffering from a disproportionate unease. Now that a Democrat is in office, Will suddenly discovers that our troops are overextended, that nation-building does not work, and to keep our troops “loitering” in Iraq is indefensible.
Four legs good, two legs bad; four legs good, two legs bad …