Oh, Hell, I lost count years ago.
Now we are told that Bush should be turned out of office because his “incompetence” caused us to lose (maybe) a couple of hundred tons of explosives from a warehouse in Iraq. Now keep in mind that these aren’t the dreaded WMD (which didn’t exist, remember?), and these aren’t plain old regular explosives, either (or else this wouldn’t be such a big deal), but a nifty new category of munition, not powerful enough to justify an invasion but just powerful enough for their disappearance to justify Bush’s ouster.
So let’s take the worst case, and see where it leads us.
The absolutely most damning case that could be made is that some soldiers arrived while the stuff was still there, but didn’t stick around to guard it, since they were still rather busy invading Iraq at the time; some time later, our forces went back to the site, found these munitions missing, and the Administration failed to advertise our loss of these munitions to the entire world.
Even granting all that, where’s Bush’s incompetence?
Ah, he didn’t commit enough troops to the operation, so there weren’t enough people on hand to guard this super-critical site, so we left it unguarded and somebody took the stuff away. But if you’ll recall, there was a significantly larger force committed to the operation – half of that force hadn’t shown up yet, being in the process of taking the long way around to Iraq. And that wasn’t due to Bush’s “incompetence” but Turkey’s lack of cooperation. And no, that wasn’t a “failure of diplomacy” either – if Kerry had gone to Turkey and said “pretty please with a cherry on top”, he wouldn’t have gotten any better results, not from Turkey, and not from France or Germany either.
So what we’re left with is that the noncooperation of Turkey, and the general chaos that always accompanies wartime operations, allowed these explosives to fall into the hands of our enemies?
Not quite. That stuff had been in the hands of our enemies for years.
Yes, I’m speaking of none other than Saddam Hussein. And, need I remind you that he was a declared enemy of the United States, not to mention technically still at war with us. And consistently violating the cease fire agreement, by shooting at American planes that had every right to be there under the terms of that agreement. Do you remember the last time a defeated enemy was allowed to violate the terms of a peace treaty with impunity? You know, the nation led by that Austrian corporal with the funny mustache that was just like George W Bush in every way, according to some of our friends on the left?
But Saddam wasn’t much of a threat!
Well, neither was Hitler the first few years he was violating his peace treaty. And if Britain and France invaded when he first moved troops into that part of Germany where they were supposed to be off-limits, and knocked him off his throne, most people would have written it off as a wasteful misadventure and then forgotten the whole thing within a few years, never dreaming of the trouble he’d have caused down the road.
Now we all have a tendency to sort evil whackos into two categories – those that are a threat to us and those that aren’t. And for many years, the jihadis all seemed to be in the second category. They’d set off bombs and hijack planes on the other side of the world, and some of the things they blew up had American flags on them, and of course they’d been calling us The Great Satan all along, but even the crazy jihadis weren’t crazy enough to try that crap over here. Until one day, one terrorist network was crazy enough to try it. They crossed the line, jumped the ocean, and made a determined and nearly successful effort to murder 50,000 people on American soil.
If Al-Queda could cross that line, why not some other group? Why not some Islamic conspiracy, or state, or kinda-sorta-state-sponsored group that had nothing to do with bin-Laden? Obviously, whatever it was that had caused them all to stay in their sandbox and avoid doing something that The Great Satan itself couldn’t possibly ignore doesn’t apply anymore, and any one of those guys could decide to score a big one like bin Laden tried to, impress his fellow jihadis, and scare up a lot of recruits. So when someone over there openly declares his enmity against the United States, we can’t assume it’s all just talk anymore, and if every intelligence service on the planet is unable to figure out whether he’s working on nukes or biding his time until containment collapses, we certainly can’t take any of them at their word that he’s fully contained and absolutely harmless.
Not to mention that he was in the way of us forcibly shutting down Iran’s nuclear program, should that become necessary (and I’ve got a strong feeling it will be necessary, in the not-too-distant future). And he was in a perfect spot for us to launch several other operations as they become necessary, gather better intel, and generally stay on the offensive against all sorts of characters that we can’t trust to blow things up only on their side of the world anymore.
Now the one thing that strikes me about the military efforts to date is just how incredibly successful they’ve been, and how masterfully planned and executed they turned out to be. Not perfect, of course (You mean there’s terrorists setting off explosives? Against Americans and their supporters? In the Middle East, no less? Say it isn’t so!). But a lot of the toys that John Kerry voted against turned out to be damned useful in the War on Terror. I don’t want to even think about how an Afghanistan operation with Vietnam-era technology and tactics would have gone for us – I think in that case we’d have been wishing for another Vietnam. And if you’ve ever cracked a history book, you’ll realize that only 1200 deaths in a year and a half of invading a dictatorship, overthrowing its dictator, and fighting a chronic insurgency is astoundingly good news, especially when added to the fact that the long-predicted flood of refugees never materialized, the terrorists that Saddam’s regime had nothing whatsoever to do with suddenly got extremely interested in the fate of Iraq (and no, we’re not turning peaceful, simple folk into bloodthirsty terrorists – at worst, we’re forcing them to choose their side a little sooner than they would have on their own, and denying them the option of biding their time until the Great Satan looks sufficiently weak to try their hand at terrorism on their chosen terms), and Iraqis are still signing up to take on the battle for their country against these thugs and getting set to vote in their first-ever real election in a couple of months.
And the Commander-in-Chief at the helm during these amazing accomplishments is called incompetent? You’ve got to be kidding me.