There’s an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal (yet another one claiming that the war in Iraq is effectively over, and that the United States has won), and it brought to mind two interesting thoughts:
1) What was gained by invading Iraq
2) How long before people who opposed the invasion not only recognize success, but recognize what was gained?
In response to the first:
Perhaps it’s worth considering what we have gained now that Iraq looks like a winner. Here’s a partial list: Saddam is dead. Had he remained in power, we would likely still believe he had WMD. He would have been sitting on an oil bonanza priced at $140 a barrel. He would almost certainly have broken free from an already crumbling sanctions regime. The U.S. would be faced with not one, but two, major adversaries in the Persian Gulf. Iraqis would be living under a regime that, in an average year, was at least as murderous as the sectarian violence that followed its collapse. And the U.S. would have seemed powerless to shape events.
Instead, we now have a government that does not threaten its neighbors, does not sponsor terrorism, and is unlikely to again seek WMD. We have a democratic government, a first for the Arab world, and one that is increasingly capable of defending its people and asserting its interests.
We have a defeat for al Qaeda. Critics carp that had there been no invasion, there never would have been al Qaeda in Iraq. Maybe. As it is, thousands of jihadists are dead, al Qaeda has been defeated on its self-declared “central battlefield,” and the movement is largely discredited on the Arab street and even within Islamist circles.
We also have — if still only prospectively — an Arab bulwark against Iran’s encroachments in the region. But that depends on whether we simply withdraw from Iraq, or join it in a lasting security partnership.
…and the second?
None of these are achievements to sneer at, all the more so because they were won through so much sacrifice. Mr. Fukuyama has now granted the “narrow” point of our bet in the form of a personal check. Here’s betting him $100 back that he will come around to conceding the broader case for the war in Iraq — shall we say, on the 10th anniversary of its liberation?
Let’s be clear, the war in Iraq is not over, but there is great success, and the path toward ending the war there is very clearly on the right path. As to recognizing success? Well, given that for so many people opposition to the war was/is/will be merely a catalyst for expressing and venting dissatisfaction with President Bush…it seems unlikely that recognition of success brought about by the invasion will come anytime soon. However, recognizing post-invasion success will come about for many people in a mere 5 months if Senator Obama becomes President Obama. Take away opposition to President Bush, and the opposition to the war disappears for most people.