Was the Vote for Iraq War ‘Right’?


By: Warner Todd Huston

In another grand example of “journalistic” integrity, USA Today has declared the Iraq war a total failure even as we are still in the middle of it all. With that “truth” reported, I’d like to have their crystal ball to get the next lottery numbers, too.

But, they aren’t the only ones. We hear leftists and anti-War on Terror types repeatedly claim that the whole action and subsequent attempt to build an Iraqi democracy was “clearly wrong”. We hear that it should never have happened, that our actions were somehow illegitimate, or that we hadn’t the right to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam.

But, by what real evidence are such claims of our relative wrongness made? How can pundits and commentators set these claims in tones of surety?

The truth is, claims that our actions are wrong cannot be claimed provably correct with total assurance. It will take decades to prove out whether it was “wrong” or “right” and many more years after that to see what other countries will do from what we have done here. All we have now are best guesses, bias, and conjecture as to what will happen or even what IS happening now.

Now, it is absolutely true to say that the peace in Iraq has been hard to win. It is a fair assessment to say that the Bush administration has made many mistakes in re-building and nation building in Iraq. But, it is not fair to say the efforts in Iraq have been a failure. As mentioned, this project the Bush administration has undertaken will take many, many years to develop (as Bush duly warned us when he began it all).

Yet, the soothsayers at USA Today and other like minded naysayers have shined up their crystal ball and pronounced that any vote for the war in Iraq was not the “right” vote. In an article titled 2 wars, 2 votes in Congress, only 10 who got both right, USA Today has presumed that they know if our efforts in Iraq was “right” or was “tragically ill-conceived”.

The arrogance of this proclamation is amazing for a supposed “news” paper that is purportedly dedicated to “reporting”, instead of creating, the news.

The paper has decided that a vote to give Bush the go-ahead to enter Iraq in 2002 was the “wrong” vote, saying “Just as certainly, the wiser vote in 2002 was to deny the second President Bush authorization to invade Iraq.”

They know this…. how?

This is based on… what?

Just the fact that we are having troubles there now? Using that simple-minded formula just about every war we have won could have been proclaimed a “failure” or the “wrong choice” while at a low point in the effort!

Are they using casualties as a guide?

If so, we would have considered WWII a failure during Iwo Jima, for instance, where we lost nearly 7,000 killed and 21,000 wounded during that bloody battle. Would USA Today have declared WWII a “loss” at that time were they “reporting” the effects of that war?

Following their current pattern, they would.

Worse, the entire premise is wrong as the war against Saddam itself was a smashing success. We went through Saddam’s forces with few losses and in record time, a fact that many seem to completely forget. The war part of our invasion was quick and a complete success. It’s the occupation and peace building we are having trouble with.

Looking over history (not just that of America’s wars but of any country’s), one simply cannot judge a war’s outcome while in the midst of it. Wars take many years to fully reveal their effects and for USA Today to act as if they fully understand the war in Iraq and can pronounce it a failure is an exercise based on pure partisan punditry and NOT any kind of historical analysis.

Past Conflicts

Before we became a Nation there was what amounted to a world war called “King George’s War” which led to the “French and Indian War” in 1750′s America. The outcome of that war was the end of French influence in the Americas (for the most part) and supremacy for the British and the Colonists.

But, while the Brits won, the experience sent the Americans ever closer to independence because of the fact that the British Crown forced the Colonists to defend themselves causing the Colonists to begin to wonder why they needed the Brits in the first place. After this war, Benjamin Franklin began to suggest to his peers that we form a Union of colonies to organize for our governance and defense. It was an idea that resurfaced repeatedly until 1776 only twenty some years later.

On the other hand, and after a war over 150 years later, the allies in Europe felt they had won the Great War at Versailles, for instance. The Germans were beaten and the French, Americans and Brits were divvying up German territory and setting terms. A great win after so many millions of deaths. But the outcome of World War One was World War Two. The “win” turned into a further war.

Did the allies fully understand that their treatment of Germany as a result of the Versailles treaty would set the stage for the next World War so soon into the future as Wilson signed the treaty at Versailles?

Hardly.

Yet, USA Today thinks they fully understand the current actions in Iraq? They think they can predict and surely proclaim the war a failure?

Hardly.

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