One of the most unfortunate bits of coincidence, ever, befell the New York Times (although, if you believe in karma, it was richly deserved.) On one Tuesday morning the Times ran a profile of ’60s terrorist Billy Ayers, quoting Ayers as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs…I feel we didn’t do enough.” The Tuesday in question was, of course, September 11, 2001.
So for some at the Times it may have felt like déjà vu all over again last Thursday. Opinion columnist Bob Herbert raised his white flag on Iraq:
How long is it going to take for us to recognize that the war we so foolishly started in Iraq is a fiasco — tragic, deeply dehumanizing and ultimately unwinnable? How much time and how much money and how many wasted lives is it going to take?
On the very same day, our troops captured Ali Hassan al-Majid, a.k.a. Chemical Ali.
However, that is not the only way “bad timing” afflicts Herbert’s lament. It’s been barely five months since we dropped the first bombs on Baghdad, and it is already, for Herbert, a quagmire of Vietnam proportions. It seems that many liberals want to use every enemy action in Iraq as validation of their initial opposition to the war.
And use the truck bombing on U.N. headquarters Herbert does:
At the United Nations yesterday, grieving diplomats spoke bitterly, but not for attribution, about the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. They said it has not only resulted in the violent deaths of close and highly respected colleagues, but has also galvanized the most radical elements of Islam.
“This is a dream for the jihad,” said one high-ranking U.N. official. “The resistance will only grow. The American occupation is now the focal point, drawing people from all over Islam into an eye-to-eye confrontation with the hated Americans.”
There is more than a hint of the blame-America-first mentality in those paragraphs. If America just hadn’t invaded Iraq, it wouldn’t have provoked the Islamo-fascists. One wonders if Herbert remembers the Bali bombing. Perhaps even September 11 is becoming a dim memory?
Those paragraphs also contain a big dollop of myopia. If Islamo-fascists are inundating Iraq, they will be encountering the types of Americans who can shoot back. In the long run it will take a heavy toll on their numbers, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, there will be more deaths-both military and civilian-before it is over. But that is why we must stay the course, to root out those who would do such killing. The last thing we should do is throw in the towel in the first round.
Then there is the presumption:
The American people still do not have a clear understanding of why we are in Iraq.
No, it is just the liberals at the Times who don’t have a clue. The American people, at least a majority of Americans, understand perfectly well what we are doing there. We went there to take out a brutal despot with a Weapons of Mass Destruction program who employed people like Chemical Ali who is reported to have once said about the Kurds “I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? F— them!” We are there to take the fight to the Islamo-fascists, not wait for them to take it to us. We are also there to establish a democracy in Iraq that will threaten the tyrannies in the Muslim world which enable Islamo-fascists.
Herbert also misses the broader significance of the U.N. bombing:
The carnage from riots, ambushes, firefights, suicide bombings, acts of sabotage, friendly fire incidents and other deadly encounters is growing. And so is the hostility toward U.S. troops and Americans in general.
Yet, as Ralph Peters noted in the New York Post, the U.N. bombing and the attacks on oil pipelines and water mains means that the Baathists are failing. Their strategy of attacking American soldiers in the hopes that — à la Mogadishu — they would leave “was a disaster for them. Our response devastated their already-crippled organization. Now, with reduced capabilities and decayed leadership, they’ve turned to attacking soft targets. It’s the best they can do.” Backing down now, as we are making progress, would be a much bigger disaster than anything Herbert has to complain about.
So what’s Herbert’s solution? As if you needed to ask:
As quickly as possible, we should turn the country over to a genuine international coalition, headed by the U.N. and supported in good faith by the U.S.
Has there ever been an organization in international affairs that holds more mythical status for liberals than the United Nations? Exactly what a U.N.-led coalition could do that a U.S.-led one cannot, Herbert doesn’t specify. Perhaps those blue helmets possess some untold magical power; just drop them into Iraq, add water, and voilà, instant peace in Iraq. My guess, though, is that the Islamo-fascists would just redirect their attacks on the U.N. troops. The message of the bombing of U.N headquarters was that Islamo-fascists consider anyone helping Iraq become a democracy to be a target — a message obviously lost on Herbert.
The despondence Herbert displays isn’t “kind” or “compassionate.” It is weakness, and a dangerous one at that. If we are to win the war against Islamo-fascism, we cannot despair when things get rough. Fortunately, those who are presently running our foreign policy are not of Herbert’s ideological ilk. If they were, the Taliban would be landing on south beaches of Florida.