David Harsanyi, whom I generally agree with (except that whole atheist thing) is wrong, dead wrong. He basically looks at the small, short picture, instead of the big, long picture, and concludes that “nation building works” but it isn’t worth it.
Several caveats first. I don’t want to see one once of American blood spilled unless it is absolutely necessary. I do not want to go around fighting wars in far away places that do not affect us. No American national interest, let the fucking U.N. handle it. Or let them kill each other and ruin their little piece of the earth. Here’s where I am coming from. I think America (and that little dictator Woodrow Wilson) was dead wrong to enter WWI. I agree with Patton that we should have kept going and run the Russians out of Europe when we had the men and material to do it. (I know, I know, the world did not have the stomach to do it, but it would have been the right thing to do). Gen. MacArthur was right about the left allowing us to lose China. And I was very much against the first gulf war–until we ran them back to Iraq in 48 hours. But once we invaded, I wanted us to go in and finish the job back then.
All that background said, “nation building” works. Sometimes you have countries, or dictators, that are like pimples on your ass. The only way to deal with them is to have them lanced. Otherwise, they are going to fester and hang around and cause far greater problems than if you just ignore them.
Hitler was one such boil that was ignored. Ohhh, John, now you’ve done it. You’ve compared Hitler and the German people to the Iraqis. The Iraqis and Saddam were nothing like the Third Reich. But imagine if Saddam was still in power, and getting all that money for oil. Eventually, it would have gotten ugly. Hell, I remember the fear that they did have WMD, and that our troops were possibly in for a blood-bath when we invaded. Even Saddam’s generals did not know they did not possess WMD.
But okay, I’ll even grant you that Saddam had no WMD, that we could have gone years before Saddam ever did, and perhaps he may never have had any. Still, it was worth it to re-instill the fear of God into those terrorists that populate the middle east and around the world. A country has to have street cred and we did not after years of Bill Clinton lobbing cruise missiles and being afraid to shed American blood.
Don’t blame me. I did not cut and run from fill in the blank ___ Vietnam, Lebanon, Mogadishu, wherever. I did not sit back and allow our embassy to be over-run and hostages to be held for months. I did not lob cruise missiles in response to bombing of our ship and our embassies. The perception certainly existed that America had the greatest army in the world, but was afraid to use it. You think that perception still exists? Try finding bin Laden and asking him that question now, if he still exists. Two bit dictators paid attention. See, e.g., Mohammar Kadhafi.
You cannot just look at it in a vacuum: Was it worth shedding American blood for no WMD? The question is how many American lives will never be shed because some of our troops, the best in the world, died and were maimed. Granted, we will never know for sure how many Americans were saved from future acts of belligerence. But in life you have to make certain educated guesses. In my mind there is no question that the world’s perception has been altered, the “paper tiger” phantom no longer exists in the minds of petty dictators and bearded cowards hiding in caves around the world.
Sometimes you have to look at the big picture and the long run. It is sort of like what George C. Scott said to the Gen. Bradley charactor, and I paraphrase: it’s time to question how many Americans would have been killed while we were bogged down on the road to Palermo. How many Americans would have been killed in the past or the future if Saddam had not been taken out. Japan and Germany learned the hard way not to mess with the U.S.A. But those old lessons were questioned by the camel-humpers. Hell, Osama bin Laden was acting rationally: it appeared that he was correct while Clinton was president. Sorry, bub, but you were not dealing with Clinton on 9/11. Lesson learned?