20 March 2008

Iraq, 5 Years hence

More than 5 years have passed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I remain convinced that going to war was the right thing to do and that long-term success is both possible and likely.

Slate is an online magazine that is predictably left-leaning. Notwithstanding those tendencies, several of their writers supported the decision to invade. Like many erstwhile supporters of the war, many have changed their mind. Like me, Christopher Hitchens has held fast. I think that his column to that effect is an excellent one. His conclusion:

There is, however, one position that nobody can honestly hold but that many people try their best to hold. And that is what I call the Bishop Berkeley theory of Iraq, whereby if a country collapses and succumbs to trauma, and it's not our immediate fault or direct responsibility, then it doesn't count, and we are not involved. Nonetheless, the very thing that most repels people when they contemplate Iraq, which is the chaos and misery and fragmentation (and the deliberate intensification and augmentation of all this by the jihadists), invites the inescapable question: What would post-Saddam Iraq have looked like without a coalition presence?
The past years have seen us both shamed and threatened by the implications of the Berkeleyan attitude, from Burma to Rwanda to Darfur. Had we decided to attempt the right thing in those cases (you will notice that I say "attempt" rather than "do," which cannot be known in advance), we could as glibly have been accused of embarking on "a war of choice." But the thing to remember about Iraq is that all or most choice had already been forfeited. We were already deeply involved in the life-and-death struggle of that country, and March 2003 happens to mark the only time that we ever decided to intervene, after a protracted and open public debate, on the right side and for the right reasons. This must, and still does, count for something.

Invading Iraq was just the right thing to do.

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