Ten years ago, the United States went to war in Iraq. It was a war we won — handily, as wars go. Yet, all you hear these days is what a big mistake it was.
I always wonder if the people who say that would prefer Saddam Hussein to be still in power. I wonder, too, where they would have preferred to fight al-Qaida, if at all.
Mostly I wonder how those who grumble about President Bush using U.S. military might to force regime change in Iraq can turn around and support the Obama Administration, which has used military resources and hired mercenaries to install the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
When Bush wanted to go into Iraq, he was enforcing years’ worth of U.N. resolutions, and had support of the U.N. and Congress, which had passed a resolution that effectively declared war, per the Constitution.
When Obama wanted to overthrow countries, just to attach his name to the “Arab Spring” and build a legacy, he didn’t even bother telling Congress what he was up to, much less ask for permission.
In Iraq, the Bush Administration was able to bring about a civilian government that had some semblance of democracy. It wasn’t easy, but Iraq previously to Saddam had been a westernized country and had several reasonably modern cities. The populace was educated and not under the thrall of radical Islam. In short, there was enough material to work with that democracy might stand a chance of survival.
It was an achievement that has been slowly squandered by the Obama Administration, which instead of nursing along a real nascent democracy has instead thrown itself headlong into places like Afghanistan, where the American troop death toll has surpassed 2,000 and the society remains a stubborn tribal culture with little knowledge of the modern world and an unshakable love affair with the medieval worldview of sharia law. Unlike with Iraq, there is no real end game plan because there’s so little by way of civilization to speak of.
From the standpoint of pure “strategery,” Iraq was a stroke of brilliance compared with Afghanistan, which began under Bush but which has grown into a debacle under Obama.
If you’re going to fight an enemy that holds to no national flag and wears no uniforms, you need to be able to draw them out into the open, where they can be identified and neutralized. Iraq, with its vast, flat desert regions, was well-suited to that task.
By comparison, Afghanistan is a giant Habitrail with plenty of places for the rodents to hide. Next to an Asian jungle, a region with mountains like Swiss cheese must be the second worst possible choice of combat theater.
Bush’s strategy in Iraq was straightforward: Kick out Saddam, kick al-Qaida’s teeth in, stick around long enough for the Iraqi people to come up with a stable democracy, leave.
Obama’s Middle East strategy is even simpler: Throw money at terrorist groups, impress everybody, have statues of self made.
The Bush strategy left behind a democracy where it found a dictatorship.
The Obama strategy replaced Egypt’s dictatorship with a worse dictatorship, destabilized Libya and has drawn us into conflict with Russia and Iran over the “civil war” in Syria. It also created the circumstances that led to the September 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The Bush policies won us some enemies, but it also won us some respect. Obama’s policies have made the United States into the laughingstock of the world. A recent Pew Research poll shows Muslims’ confidence in Obama declined from 33 percent to 24 percent in his first term. Approval of his policies by Muslims plunged from 34 to 15 percent.
For a president who came into office bragging that he would raise the U.S.’s status around the world, it’s a dismal showing.
Liberals spent seven years dogging the Bush Administration for its operation of the war in Iraq. No detail was too small to nitpick.
Now those same liberals find themselves avoiding the subject, ignoring casualty reports from Afghanistan and pretending there’s nothing going on in Syria, Egypt or anywhere else in the Muslim world.
If it ever gets its collective head out of the sand, the Left might finally learn a valuable lesson.