Patrick J. Buchanan
October 15 2003
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is bitter over the way Condi Rice leaked word the
National Security Council would be big-footing his Pentagon to take over the
management of Iraq.
The State Department is having a hellish time persuading the United Nations to support a U.S. resolution that might bring in U.N. troops and aid.
Republicans are balking at the White House request for $20 billion for reconstruction. Democrats are painting Iraq as a disaster bred of White House hubris and Bush unilateralism. U.S. forces are being daily hit with mining, bombing and sniping attacks. And half the nation is now dissatisfied with President Bush's handling of Iraq.
In Baghdad, radical Shiites appear to be edging toward a clash with U.S. occupation forces. And at the Islamic summit in Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad has called on Muslim countries to evict the United States from Iraq.
So, the neoconservatives who rhapsodized about American soldiers being hailed as liberators in Baghdad as they were in Paris in 1944, and democracy sweeping the Middle East, have been exposed as naifs whose knowledge is as small as their egos are large.
But that does not mean Baghdad is Stalingrad or U.S. forces on the Tigris face what U.S. forces did on the Yalu in 1950.
For the president is also right. Heartening progress is being made in restoring basic services such as water and electricity, and in recruiting and training police and soldiers. Schools are open, and Iraq is moving toward self-determination. It may thus yet be said: The ultimate outcome of the Iraqi war remains in doubt.
As to whether the war was wise, however, the returns are tilting heavily against the president. On the credit side of the ledger, Saddam has been overthrown, his murderous regime removed and the Iraqi people given a chance to be independent and free.
On the debit side, our failure to unearth any hard evidence that Iraq had chemical or bio weapons ready for use, or was working on nuclear weapons, or had ties to al-Qaida or a role in 9-11 has been ruinous to the nation's and president's reputation for truth.
And the White House's stubborn refusal to admit that prewar intelligence was faulty has enabled critics to claim the president's men deceived the country. And that is what the world believes.
Our alliances have been strained. The rift with Old Europe is unrepaired. Our Arab friends are putting distance between us. And the president's coalition partners are embattled. Prime Minister John Howard of Australia has been censured by his senate for misleading the country on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and British belief in the integrity of Tony Blair has sunk with his approval rating.
As for neoconservative predictions that democracy would break out in the Arab world and Mideast peace would be at hand after Baghdad, the less said the better. The "roadmap," smeared with the blood of Jewish victims of Hamas terror and Palestinian victims of Sharonite reprisals, is crumpled up in the back seat.
As for the salutary effect of "shock and awe" on Axis of Evil nations, where is it? Iran and North Korea appear undeterred by our smashing of Iraq and even more resolved to acquire atomic weapons to defend themselves against U.S. air, sea and ground forces that are otherwise irresistible.
Has our victory in Iraq been a triumph in the war on terror?
How? Before the invasion, not one U.S. civilian or soldier had died in a terror attack plotted by Saddam in a decade. Since we went to war, 330 Americans have died, 1,500 more have been wounded, and Iraqi guerrillas are killing three to six soldiers a week and wounding scores. According to the administration itself, Iraq has become "a haven for terrorists." Before the invasion, all was quiet on what is now called "the central front" in the war on terror.
One thing, however, seems certain. With Americans balking at paying the cost in blood of occupying Iraq, and Congress balking at voting even 1 percent of GDP to hold Iraq, the imperial project of the neocons – to erect an American empire in Arabia and impose democracy on reluctant Muslims – is dead.
Only Mahatir thinks not. Pointing to the Israeli air strike near Damascus, he told the Islamic summit, "Israel has been urging America to invade Syria, and Americans seemed to be reluctant, so in order to force the hand of America, Israel invades Syria."
Will Bush allow Sharon and his neocon auxiliary to drag us into another war, against Syria or Iran, or will he see his country's interests more clearly now?
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