Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reactions to Obama's Iraq Speech

I will likely have more on this today. There are a lot of questions following the president's speech. Megan O'Sullivan at the clip suggests Iraq is now in the grips of the worst political crisis since the early stages of the war and Obama again revealed his dishonesty in refusing to acknowledge that challenge for the post-combat situation. Others are hashing out how bad a speech it was, and it was awful. But the most important debate will be on the costs and value of the conflict. Was is worth it? Think Progress probably captures the leftist line perfectly, and what's interesting there is how much ground they concede to war supporters. And there are few wiser than Victor Davis Hanson on such issues, and I'll elaborate on some of his points later. As he notes:

So was Iraq worth the cost? And could Obama have cited anything positive other than banalities? In some sense, that was asked post facto of every war — whether it was the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, Korea, or Vietnam. The truth about Iraq is that, for all the tragedy and the loss, the U.S. military performed a miracle. After nearly seven years, a constitutional government endures in that country. It is too often forgotten that all 23 of the writs for war passed by the Congress in 2002 — from enforcing the Gulf I resolutions and stopping the destruction of the Kurds and Marsh Arabs, to preventing the Iraqi state promotion of terrorism, ending suicide bounties on the West Bank, and stopping Iraq from invading or attacking neighbors or trying to acquire WMD — were met and satisfied by the U.S. military. It is also too often forgotten that, as a result, Libya gave up its WMD program; Dr. Khan’s nuclear franchise was shut down; Syria left Lebanon; and American troops in Saudi Arabia, put there as protection against Saddam, were withdrawn. Perhaps a peep about some of that—especially the idea that in an oil-short world, Saddam Hussein might have been more or less free to do what he pleased again in Iraq. (The verdict is out on Iran; playing a genocidal Hussein regime against it was morally bankrupt. Currently, Shiites participating in consensual government could be as destabilizing to Iran in the long run as Iranian terrorists are to Iraq in the short run.)

Furthermore, the destruction of al-Qaeda in Iraq helped to discredit the entire idea of radical Sunni Islamic terrorists, and the loss of thousands of foreign radical Islamists in Iraq had a positive effect on U.S. security — despite the fallacy that we created them out of thin air by being in Iraq. Kurdistan was, prior to 2003, faced with the continual threat of genocidal attacks by Saddam Hussein; today it is a booming economy. All that would have been impossible without U.S. intervention.

Maybe some of the above was what President Obama meant by a “remarkable chapter,” or what Vice President Biden meant were his administration’s “greatest achievements”?
More at Memeorandum.