First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Did We Invade the Wrong Country?
I find it just a little amusing that pundits -- especially opponents of the war -- are now saying, "It looks like we invaded the wrong country, if we wanted to get the governments that supported 9/11."
What they mean is that Iran, not Iraq, seems to have given the terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center safe passage -- including the decision not to stamp their passports so that they could not be identified as having passed through Iran.
Well, duh. Of course Iran supported them. Iran has openly supported terrorism since the "holy" dictatorship of the ayatollahs was established during the Carter presidency.
But we didn't invade Iraq because they directed or actively supported or had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack. Nor did President Bush ever say so. What he said was that Iraq was an active supporter of terrorism -- an undisputed fact -- with a relationship with Al-Qaeda -- again, another undisputed fact.
President Bush never said that Iraq was directly in charge of or had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
What he did say was that Iraq was a dangerous, active supporter of terrorism, that Iraq had used some WMDs (poison gas) against domestic and foreign enemies, had developed others (biological weapons), and had actively worked to develop nukes. All facts.
But the President could have made an even better case against Iran and its client state, Syria. Or, for that matter, the genocidal regime in Sudan.
Militarily, Sudan and Syria would have been much easier campaigns to conduct, demanding much smaller forces and in both cases liberating millions of grateful people from viciously oppressive, murderous regimes.
But Sudan and Syria both knew their vulnerability and changed their stripes -- just enough to persuade the U.S. that negotiation was better than invasion.
Iran's regime, however, has taken the opposite tack. They have defiantly proclaimed their intention of developing nuclear weapons -- and we know they're crazy enough to use them, if not against us, then against Israel.
So why didn't we invade Iran instead of Iraq?
First, our goal was not to invade everybody who sponsored terrorism. The hope was that by toppling one powerful regime, we could persuade the other bad actors to change their behavior -- as happened with Syria, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen.
Second, in choosing which regime to topple, Iraq was the obvious target politically: We were technically already at war with Iraq, they were firing at our airplanes weekly, the American public already knew Saddam to be a criminal and a monster, and we could get the support of allies in the Persian Gulf to allow us to stage our invasion. The issue of WMDs only came up in the context of trying to get the U.N. to join us in the war.
Third, while Iraq was not the best target for an occupation -- it is an inherently unstable political unit which had been three separate provinces under the Ottoman Empire, and it has infinitely permeable borders -- it was a relatively attractive target for our military, with its flattish unforested terrain.
Fourth, Iran was and remains a military nightmare. Even now, with access to the long border between Iraq and Iran, an invasion of Iran would combine the worst features of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. There are plenty of mountains where resistance forces could hide, and plenty of cities into which they could melt.
Fifth, the dictatorship in Iran is not quite as monstrous as Saddam's was. There are actually opponents of the regime who have been allowed to live. There was reason to hope that with the right kind of pressure at the top and support at the bottom, the regime might either change its behavior, or the people might change the regime. An invasion might only unite Iranians in patriotic resistance to an American invasion.
We did not attack the wrong country. There were sound reasons to invade one major terrorist-supporting country (Afghanistan did not count), and the intransigent foe that practically begged us to invade was Saddam.
The truly baffling thing is that everyone is speaking about the invasion of Iraq as a mistake that needs to be blamed on someone.
The truth is that it was an astonishingly quick and relatively bloodless military campaign -- partly because so few of the Iraqi soldiers and leaders made any attempt to defend the regime of Saddam Hussein.
And the occupation -- of a country with a Sunni minority that fears democracy because it will put the Shi'ites of the south into ascendancy -- has actually gone surprisingly well, despite the mistakes we made early on.
While guerrilla and terrorist activities have taken a toll of our soldiers and of Iraqi civilians, they have never received any widespread public support. Most Iraqi citizens either tolerated or supported the American occupation as a necessary stage before returning to self-government.
And when people make much of the fact that more of our soldiers have been killed during the occupation than during the campaign, that is only because the campaign caused such an astonishingly low number of casualties among American troops.
If the initial invasion of Iraq had cost us the expected level of casualties, then the occupation would not have cost us more American lives.
It is only because of the propaganda that we have been pounded with during the occupation that the American people are actually coming to believe that it was somehow a mistake to invade Iraq.
Let's see: We ran the cleanest military campaign in history, with the fewest civilian casualties relative to the size of the armies involved. We toppled a dictator who was killing thousands of his own people a year and terrorizing the rest. We removed the possibility of Saddam giving gas, bio-weapons, or nukes to terrorist who might then use them against us -- or our friends, allies, or France.
And President Bush's administration handled it so deftly that the surrounding nations remained relatively quiescent, instead of joining in Osama's anti-American jihad.
So there were mistakes -- by intelligence services and occupation planners before the war, and by administrators and the military during the occupation.
Please show me one campaign in history that had no mistakes. Usually the mistakes cost many thousands of lives, if not outright defeat.
The astonishing thing about the Iraqi campaign is that it is perhaps the closest thing to a flawless war that we have ever conducted -- and I include the troubled occupation of Iraq in that characterization.
Even our mistakes and moral lapses have been trumpeted by us with mea culpas that no other conqueror in history has ever bothered with.
I'm fed up with the attempt to blame somebody for a military campaign that by any rational historical measure was an utter triumph.
Of course, President Bush can't call the Iraqi campaign the triumph that it was, because he knows -- as his opponents often forget -- that the war is not over.
Iraq and Afghanistan were campaigns in that war. But the terrorist jihadists have not given up. They will certainly mount another attack in the United States, timed to cause maximum harm. When we make it harder to attack some targets, that only redirects them to attack others.
More American blood will flow. And when it happens, President Bush will not have to eat any extravagantly triumphant words, because he didn't say them.
The Iraq campaign achieved much; but the war is still young.
Well, no, the war is actually quite old -- it can probably be dated to the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.
But we only started treating it as a war in 2001. And from that point to now, it is hard to imagine any government in history that has ever managed a war of comparable difficulty as well as this government has managed it.
It is especially hard to imagine John Kerry being anything other than a champion appeaser, like Neville Chamberlain before World War II. Do you really think that if Clinton, Gore, or Kerry had been President in the aftermath of 9/11 that our enemies would have met with such swift and relentless suppression of their capability to mount further attacks on American soil?
Democrats in California are teaching all of America just how humorless they are.
Supporters of President Bush are supposed to grin and bear it when Michael Moore and Al Franken and other Hollywood "humorists" savagely slander him. But when Governor Schwarzenneger quotes an old Saturday Night Live sketch, calling obstructionists in the state legislature "girly-men," it doesn't occur to Democrats to merely shake their heads and say, "Oh, that silly Austrian."
No, they're full of outrage, demanding apologies.
And why should Schwarzenneger apologize?
Oh, because his remark was "homophobic."
That tells you exactly what the word "homophobic" means: nothing at all. It's simply an ugly word hurled at anybody who opposes the extremist social agenda in America.
Notice that nobody ever called the "Hans and Franz" Saturday Night Live sketch homophobic. Apparently it only becomes homophobic when a Republican quotes it. Even if the Republican is the person who was the original target mocked by the sketch.
Even if he's the most socially "liberal" Republican holding a governor's chair in America today.
Speaking of apologies, I expect that any minute now we'll hear a chorus of apologies from the Left for their having constantly called President Bush a liar because in his 2003 State of the Union address he said that Hussein was trying to buy uranium in Africa.
Turns out that it's the guy who called Bush a liar who was the liar. Oh, wait, excuse me, he was a "misspeaker," not a liar, because only supporters of the war are liars; opponents who get the facts wrong merely made innocent mistakes.
The fact remains: Bush's intelligence sources were right. Hussein tried to buy uranium from Niger. Just like he said.
I'm holding my breath waiting for those apologies.
The Left doesn't actually care about truth. I mean, look at how they keep pounding on the 2000 election as having been "stolen." The only people trying to overturn the outcome were the Democrats. They didn't care about an honest vote in Florida. They only cared about picking up a few extra votes in heavily Democratic districts.
Don't forget that the same Democrats tried to get the courts to erase the votes of Florida's overseas servicemen on technicalities -- while claiming they wanted "every vote to count."
And these people call Bush a liar?
Yet even now, Kerry is making a big deal about sending out teams of lawyers to watch over the 2004 election, preparing to file court actions to demand recounts wherever they can find some "irregularity."
Translated into English, that means "wherever the vote is close enough and the state courts are sympathetic enough that election results can be thrown out or added to until the correct outcome is achieved."
Thus Richard Daley, who managed the steal-the-election effort of Al Gore in 2000, has brought dirty Chicago politics to all of America.
Remember that there is only one defense against this strategy, only one way to avoid the anti-democratic shenanigans of the election thieves who are poised to try it again:
President Bush's supporters need to go and vote. Even in states where the polls say he has an overwhelming lead. Even if the media call the election and say that one or the other candidate has already won.
If the polls are open, go and vote.
If the election isn't close, even the most dedicated election thieves will give up and go home.
Remember, too, that the only before-the-count cheating in the Florida voting was committed by the television networks that announced Florida's results while the polls were still open in the Florida panhandle.
That's conservative Republican country -- the only part of the state of Florida that is solidly "southern" in culture and politics.
The media had vowed that they would not call any state until all the polls had closed. Somehow, though, Florida -- a state that they all knew was too close to call -- was the only one where an early announcement of results would suppress mostly Republican votes.
If they had held off calling the state, so that last-hour voters in that area hadn't given up and stayed home, there would have been a measurably wider margin for President Bush.
Then it might not have been close enough for even Richard Daley to think that the state might be stolen after the fact.
Don't let yourselves be manipulated. Get to the polls early. Don't wait for the end of the day. Take time off work. It's worth it. In states where a Bush victory is a foregone conclusion, pile up margins for him that are so huge that nobody can call him a minority president.
Because we can't afford to replace Bush with a candidate who has been an enemy of American defenses for his entire career -- starting the day he got home from Vietnam and threw whatever it was he threw over the fence.
Copyright © 2004 by Orson Scott Card.
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