Via Christine comes this excellent opinion piece:
Iraq is a hard slog, but to compare it with the debacle of half a century ago is absurd.[…]Whatever the result of the referendum held in Iraq on Saturday, it has been a triumph. The constitution on which the people were voting is a model of federalism and pluralism. It had already crossed both the sectarian and religious divide by being embraced by the Shia and Kurdish communities (it is often forgotten that the Kurds are Sunni Muslims). It has been accepted by a section of the Sunni Arabs as well, and even those who are not yet convinced of its merits appear to have decided, wisely, that it was much better to vote than to boycott the poll. If, as seems likely, the constitution is endorsed, it will surely be amended to suit Sunni interests further.
Which means that Iraq will have vaulted two of the three hurdles that it had to clear to become a credible constitutional democracy. The first was cleared in January when ballots were recorded for an interim parliament. The fruits of that moment were partly squandered when those who were elected then spent months arguing who should get which job.
This is not a cul-de-sac that will be revisited. By tomorrow Iraq should know if it has acquired a constitution with which it can begin working. If so, then in mid-December an election will be held for a national parliament and there is every reason to believe that turnout then will be at least as high and as admirably broad as it was on Saturday. All of which means that those who supported the Anglo-US intervention can start to be less defensive.
Some awful mistakes were made and they have been conceded. Neither Britain nor the United States knew enough about Saddam Hussein?s inconsistent, incoherent, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to support the scale of claims they made in the months preceding conflict. The decision to disband the Iraqi Army and police once the Baathist regime fell was foolish, if perhaps more understandable than critics are prepared to acknowledge.
The extent to which religious extremism had permeated parts of Shia and Sunni Iraq before March 2003, when the tanks rumbled over the border with Kuwait, was badly underestimated. Numerous matters could have been addressed much more shrewdly and this would have led to a far better security situation.
Nothing in this lengthy confessional should, though, negate the fact that there are many positive aspects to this story. One such is the character of the political and constitutional dialogue in Iraq, as is the rapid development of a free and crusading media and the steady recovery of the economy.
It may take until 2010 before all this bears fruit ? longer that many of us hoped and thought at the time the old dictatorship was toppled. Yet, what would Iraq have been destined for in 2010 if Saddam were still in his palaces instead of in a prison awaiting the start of his trial this week, or if he had keeled over to pass on tips to Old Nick, leaving one or other of his sadistic sons in charge of that country?
The real divide over Iraq is not what it was almost three years ago. It is no longer ?war versus peace? (a funny sort of ?peace?, as the Kurds and Shias could ruefully testify) but ?what about the democracy?? versus ?so what about the democracy??
The central question is this: is the extraordinary spectacle of Iraqi embracing a system unknown in that region, but rich in its potential, a cause worthy of continued sacrifice in Washington and London? Or is the position so inconsequential, or so drained of legitimacy because of the way in which it came about, that politicians and public in the United States and Britain should throw up their hands and rush for the door marked exit? People can plump for whichever option they prefer. What they must not do is ignore the reality that millions of Iraqis have, in effect, voted for staying the course.
One of the most paradoxical aspects of this bitter debate has been the constant references to Suez. The late Robin Cook described the Iraqi enterprise as the worst error in British foreign policy since Suez. Charles Kennedy used almost exactly the same words when addressing his own party conference a few weeks ago. Ken Clarke and Sir Malcolm Rifkind have each echoed this terminology in separate remarks to Conservative audiences.
Yet the evidence is that Suez was a military success but a political failure. Anglo-French soldiers put the Egyptian Air Force out of action with aplomb in 1956 and seized Port Said within 24 hours of landing there. But as a result of this action, Arab nationalism was fanned, not flattened.
Iraq is the absolute inverse of this outcome. The continued capacity of terrorists to commit (increasingly pointless) carnage there has to be regarded as a military failure. The striking popularity of constitutional democracy has to be counted as a political success of the first order. If it continues to act as a catalyst for reform elsewhere, then it will have fanned the cause of freedom in this important part of the world and not flattened it.
The folly of Suez was to have inserted troops in the first place. The crime in the case of Iraq would be to end the military presence before a promising political settlement has been firmly established.
It still amazes me to no end to find the left, the KOS idiots, and the DummiesU of this Country still clinging to the notion that the Iraq war was a failure. The freedom of a whole country is a failure? Freeing this nation with under 2,000 American casualities in 2 1/2 years of war is a failure? No way, it’s sad but no failure. It’s actually quite an amazing feat compared to all the other wars we have been in.
The jailing of a murderous tyrant is a failure? Spreading Democracy in an area of the world that is desperately in need of it is a failure?
Yes, I know I know, you lefties will spring forward the “where’s the WMD’s” mantra….which we all know is an idiotic argument when the WHOLE freakin world believed he had them.
Either way you look at it, the Iraqi war has been an amazing accomplishment and I am proud of our Military, and our President.