Despite being a very busy guy, New Sisyphus took some time out to write a very cogent, very considered essay on why it was right to take the war to Iraq (emphases mine):
A number of reasons made dysfunctional Baathist Iraq the obvious choice: it was a once-prosperous, multi-ethnic community in the heart of the Islamic world that had been brutalized by an insanely aggressive regime that not only had invaded neighboring countries twice but had used long-banned chemical weapons in doing so. It also had an on-going program to further develop WMD for its use. It had used WMD against its own population to strengthen its rule by fear. It was still technically at war with the United States, violating a cease-fire almost daily by firing upon American pilots. It had attempted to assassinate an ex-President of the United States. It was supporting suicide bombing in Israel by providing financial benefit to such fanatic’s families. It had given refuge to terrorist groups and terrorist leaders. In short, Iraq was the poster child for the type of dysfunctional political culture that had given rise to the grievance-based ideology of Islamic Fascism.
Thus, Iraq presented the President with a convergence of strategic sense and tactical opportunity. Strategic, in that a conversion of Iraq to a more democratic and prosperous country would provide a counter-model to that proposed by the Islamic Republic and Bin Ladenism in the heart of the Islamic world; tactical in that its WMD program, aggressive behavior and some links to terrorist groups represented a threat to the United States.
In sum, the short-term problem of active Al-Qaeda support was solved (to some extent) by the change of regime in Afghanistan while the long-term problem of Islamic Fascism would be countered by the democratic rise of a new Iraq, leading to the spread of the ideals of democracy and liberty in the greater Middle East. Together, both prongs, along with the aggressive use of law enforcement domestically and abroad, diplomacy, and special operations in remote theatres, make up the wider War on Terror. Both were prompted by the adoption of war goals by the President, whose judgment was largely colored by what he felt were the central lessons of 9.11.
Thus, for the NY Times and liberals at large to say that Iraq had “nothing whatsoever to do with the terrorist attacks,” is to miss the larger point the President is making, made last night and will continue to make for the rest of his term. Iraq is central to the President’s war aims in that he seeks to inject a radical new order in the heart of the Middle East, one that will present an alternative and democratic space that will deflate the appeal of the fascism that gave rise to 9.11 and similar attacks.
For liberals to pretend not to understand all this—for them to lose their vaunted sense of nuance and understanding—reveals a profound and distasteful dishonesty on their part, as well as a whiff of desperation. Beyond indicting Bin Laden in District Court for the Southern District of New York, liberals have been without a strategic plan on how to win the War on Terror. In fact, they would deny such a war even exists.
Exactly. They didn’t get it during the Cold War, and they don’t get it now. Their ostrich-like perspective and their paranoid style of rhetoric has, unfortunately, stripped them of all credibility on issues of national security and foreign policy.
One important point, which I readily concede to antiwar friends, is that the Iraq War was a war of choice. Indubitably. But that’s like trying to decide where in the house to lay the roach traps, or even trying to decide whether to merely mop up after roach attacks, or proactively going after the roaches, or even worse, doing nothing at all. Similarly, Iraq was a crossroads of Islamofascism (of which bin Ladenism is only a variant), was already in a state of hostilities, and had provided plenty of legitimate reasons for the resumption of military operations.
Read the whole thing; it is without a doubt one of the best essays out there.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]