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|Sun, 10-31-2004 - 8:27pm|
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.
It's Worth The Price
What if the U.S. hadn't invaded Iraq?
If we had not invaded Iraq, French banks, French politicians and French businessmen would be richer. French, German and Russian arms dealers would be richer. Kofi Anan's son would be richer. Numerous high-ranking UN officials would be richer. The European and Middle-Eastern businessmen who sold the Iraqi people expired medicines, rancid cooking oil and spoiled foodstuffs under the UN Oil-For-Food program would be richer. Uday and Qusay would be richer (and still alive). And, of course, Saddam would be richer.
And the French would be complaining about something else...
To be fair, we American spoilsports (who upset the international gravy-train for all those self-righteous Europeans and Middle-Eastern butchers) did make one inexcusable mistake: We didn't go to Baghdad in 1991, but listened to our Saudi "friends."
Even foregoing my favorite argument that this war was morally noble (where were all those Hollywood personalities when Saddam was killing more Muslims than any tyrant since Tamerlane? Has chubby old Linda Ronstadt ever smelled a mass grave? Did Susan Sarandon and her wife, Tim Robbins, ever protest the genocide against the Kurds? Have the Dixie Chicks ever been abducted, raped and disfigured by a dictator's thugs?)...leaving all that aside, we have taken the great anti-Western war our enemies began to their turf, and that is never a mistake.
Making one's enemies suffer is currently an under-valued activity.
Had we not forced our collective enemies to face us in the Middle East, they could have devoted the resources they're expending in Iraq to striking us at home. And yes, they'll strike us at home again, eventually--this is a colossal struggle. But passivity, appeasement and cowardice only encourage them and make it easier for them to draw strength. It is never a mistake to strike down an enemy who has sworn to kill us--as both our Islamic and secular Middle-Eastern enemies hope to do. Saddam Hussein was as much a part of the problem of the decayed, morally leprous Middle East as Osama bin Laden is. The War on Terror isn't a minor affair, but a titanic struggle with a failed civilization that includes both vicious mullahs and cynical murderers--both those who drink the poison of hate from the fouled springs of their religion and those who guzzle scotch behind closed doors (not infrequently one and the same).
If we had not deposed Saddam Hussein's regime, nothing would have changed in the Middle East. And change, so long delayed, is essential. Even should the Iraqi people fail to take advantage of the unprecedented chance we have given them to build a better future, the effort was worthwhile. On its worst day, Iraq is now a better place than it was before our soldiers crossed its borders.
If we had not deposed Saddam, dictators everywhere, as well as terrorists, would have continued to believe that the United States was all bluster, that Afghanistan was a one-off exception, an easy score. Indeed, even the tough occupation and our continued presence serve to prove that the Clinton era is over, that you can no longer make America run by killing its sons and daughters.
We may lament every American casualty--but not one has died in vain. Our display of strength, resolve and grit has, indeed, made America and the world safer--although this struggle will continue, in many forms, for decades to come. You cannot expect instant success when faced with a problem that has been forming for centuries--the decline of a once-great civilization into a static culture that is entirely parasitic, that makes not a single positive contribution to the rest of the world. In the end, no matter what we do, it will be up to the Arabs to right themselves--and it's far from certain that they will ever show the will or the wherewithal to fix their broken world. In the meantime, our liberation of Iraq graphically demonstrated the price Middle-Eastern regimes can be made to pay when they choose to export their problems, as Saddam Hussein repeatedly tried to do.
It doesn't matter in the least if the Baathist regime in Baghdad had no direct ties to al-Qaeda--both were manifestations of the same civilizational disease, the same culture of failure, hatred, oppression and inertia.
There is evil in the world. And if we had not gone to Iraq, evil would still be flourishing in Baghdad.
We haven't finished anything in this great struggle. But we've made an impressive start.
Ralph Peters is the author of Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace.
copyright 2004 - Ralph Peters