Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Memorial Day: The War In Iraq’

Full post here.

‘All wars are tragic; some are also victorious.  The tragedies of Iraq are real and well known.  The victory is equally real — but the politically fastidious don’t want to look.  The minimum we owe our lost and wounded warriors is to tell the story of what they so gloriously achieved.’

We do owe our lost and wounded warriors our respect, reflection and gratitude, for they have made the deepest sacrifice.  Yesterday was a day of remembrance for the countless white crosses on the lawn in Arlington; the brothers, sons, daughters, fathers, friends lost.  We also owe them the best reasons for going to war, behind the rhetoric.

Mead argues that the achievement and victory is against Al-Qaeda, not Saddam Hussein nor the Iraqi citizens.  One could argue this, I suppose, as there has been a movement afoot of violent, radical Islamists, seeking to wage Holy War against the West and the U.S in particular. Bin Laden was their ringleader for awhile, but the sentiment is deep.  We didn’t want the battleground to be here at home (and we are in a protracted military, security, intelligence, and political conflict with Islamic terrorists) so perhaps we brought it to Iraq (thus however, fulfilling to some degree, Bin-Laden’s invitation).

The best argument I can see here is that have a new ideological enemy of sorts and a threat to our democracy and way of life (a Clash Of Civilizations?).  Unlike the fascist and imperial dictators of WWII though, and their threat to our allies and interests in Europe…unlike the protracted ideological struggle with the Soviets and communism in Eastern Europe, on the Korean peninsula, in Vietnam, and even in Cuba and South America…this new enemy is stateless, diffuse, and claims the religious and moral high ground while committing base atrocities through terror attacks in the name of Islam.   The violent elements that threaten our security here at home need to be stood up to.

Yet, does it follow that the best way to do this was by invading Iraq?

Is victory simply defeating terrorists by drawing the enemy to a country where they weren’t, and killing them?  Is victory toppling Saddam and the Iraqi Army, with limited loss of U.S. life, using Iraq as a pawn on the ideological chessboard (if they are in fact our new ideological enemy on this analysis)?  Is it creating a foundation for a form of government and way of life in our own image..that does not harbor terrorists?  Is it in creating a government that best allows for the flourishing of freedom..such as Iraqis choose…when so little of this seemed to be their choice?

Victory here is a tough sell, come what may.  There has got to be a smarter way to fight the war on terror.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”… From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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