Monday, February 21, 2005
Bob Herbert's op-ed piece today asks this question:
So tell me again. What was this war about? In terms of the fight against terror, the war in Iraq has been a big loss. We've energized the enemy. We've wasted the talents of the many men and women who have fought bravely and tenaciously in Iraq. Thousands upon thousands of American men and women have lost arms or legs, or been paralyzed or blinded or horribly burned or killed in this ill-advised war. A wiser administration would have avoided that carnage and marshaled instead a more robust effort against Al Qaeda, which remains a deadly threat to America.
We've energized the enemy? Really? They were already committing suicide bombings before the Iraq war, can you get more energized than that? As far as recruitment, see above - they were able to get people to commit suicide bombings even before the war - obviously they weren't having any recruitment issues. And lately, it sounds like they are having trouble finding volunteers. According to several reports, the militants have resorted to using mentally handicapped suicide bombers on at least three occasions. Good guys those terrorists. If only 6 year olds were strong enough to carry the bombs I am sure they would be sending them in too.

So this point seems to me to lack any merit.

Herbert then turns to a bunch of quotes - most if not all made before the war - that state the war in Iraq (or I should say, the possible war in Iraq) is being used as a recruitment tool, and in some opinions, an effective tool. Also a quote wholly unrelated to this argument that it is only a matter of time before Al Qaeda attempts to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Wow, what a revelation. Terrorists want to use the most destructive weapons possible. Hmm, maybe we should try to stop them from getting their hands on such things? Perhaps we should make sure that countries that have such weapons don't give them to terrorists. Perhaps we should do something about a country run by a dictator that has chemical and biological weapons that might be friendly to terrorist groups.... Maybe that would be a good idea, you think?

So it seems to me that Herbert provides us with the very reason why this war was a good idea, and why it has helped the war on terror.

Plus, in my opinion, you have to think long-term. Long-term we have democratized one formerly terrorist-friendly nation and, presumably, eventually that will be one less country from which the terrorists will be able to recruit. This could also be the first domino in creating a democratic Middle East.

Herbert's only other point is that American soldiers have died. Well that certainly is a tragedy. But people die in war. And the fact they die cannot be used to argue the war was an "ill-advised" decision. The question is, was the war worth it. I think most would say that it was worth the loss of life and limb to defeat Nazi Germany. But this same argument could have been used to say that was an ill-advised war. As far as the Iraq war, we won't really know whether it was an "ill-advised" war or not until 10 or 20 years from now. At that point we may very well look back and see that this Iraq war was the first step in creating a democratic Middle East and ending terrorism as we know it. It is short-sighted to say the least to claim now that the Iraq war hasn't been successful in the war on terror. Only time will tell.

Oh, and lets not forget the people of Iraq. I think it is fair to say they are much better off without Saddam than they were with him.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!

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