"HAS IRAQ WEAKENED US?"
HatTip to Lucianne.com. Good article by Victor Davis Hanson, who is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a columnist at National Review Online. Excerpt:
Finally, a number of retired generals and admirals—Wesley Clark, William J. Crowe, Barry McCaffrey, Tony McPeak, William Odom, Stansfield Turner, and Anthony Zinni—have worried publicly over the demands placed on the United States in Iraq and the specter of another open-ended, Vietnam-like commitment sapping American assets, troop morale, and public support for the military. Moved by the hard facts of finite resources and the soft reality of censure at home and abroad, these former-officers-turned-political-commentators emphasize our increasing vulnerabilities and voice a reluctance to exercise any further American power abroad except under the aegis of the United Nations and with de-facto NATO blessing.
Political prognoses in wartime are notoriously mercurial, hinging on the weekly eddies of the battlefield. But these are sometimes poor indicators of larger strategic currents. If one thing can be said with confidence about Iraq, it is that the story is not over, since so far the daily bombings have neither prompted American withdrawal nor derailed scheduled elections and reforms. In World War II, the bloodiest moment of the Pacific theater was at Okinawa, finally declared secure a mere nine weeks before the Japanese surrender, while in Europe the Battle of the Bulge, a slog that cost more American lives than the drive to the Rhine, was not finished until only about 100 days before Germany collapsed. What can be seen in hindsight, and only in hindsight, is that while Americans were being butchered in Belgium and on Sugar Loaf Hill, larger forces were insidiously working to doom Germany and Japan in short order. The last gasps of resistance are sometimes the bloodiest and most unexpected.
Just so, Afghanistan a year ago was supposedly a hopeless case, torn apart by warlords and Taliban resurgence, and unfit for elections; today the country is mostly on the back pages, as if democracy were de rigueur for a nation recently dismissed as a relic of the Dark Ages. Similarly, with all the news of bombings and beheadings coming from Iraq, the larger picture, not so easily deciphered, shows signs of real progress in most of the country. The long overdue retaking of Falluja and ancillary military operations have sent their own signal: that a reelected George Bush intends to ensure the installation and the survival of a legitimately elected Iraqi government. The specter of that constitutional authority sending troops to quash mercenaries, Baathists, and Wahhabi jihadists is precisely what frightens al Qaeda and other avatars of Islamic fascism, who have rightly grasped that their failure in the Sunni triangle will constitute a bitter defeat for global Islamic fundamentalism itself. (full article)