John on December 27, 2008 at 9:37 am
Almost goes without saying that this article (or its equivalent) will never appear in a US paper:
To his critics, who are legion on both sides of the Atlantic, the war in Iraq has been a monumental disaster, at a cost of more than 4,000 American lives and at least $500 billion. They see the war on terror, with the notorious Guantanamo prison camp as its symbol, as a catalyst for radicalizing tens of millions of Muslims that has made the United States a pariah in the Middle East.
The war in Afghanistan, they argue, is going badly in the face of a resurgent Taliban, the cost of Washington pouring most of its resources into Iraq. Bush, the theory goes, failed to keep his eye on the ball, weakening the fight against al-Qaeda through his supposed obsession with Iraq. He is also accused of undermining America’s standing in the world, adopting a unilateralist foreign policy and refusing to work with its Allies.
Some of the criticism of Bush’s foreign policy is fair. The early stages of the occupation of Iraq were poorly handled and there was a distinct lack of post-war planning. America’s public diplomacy efforts have been poor or even non-existent, with little serious attempt to combat the stunning rise of anti-Americanism. More recently, Washington’s failure to stand up more aggressively to Moscow after its invasion of Georgia projected weakness and indecision.
Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush’s personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush’s actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America’s 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Widely seen as his biggest foreign policy error, the decision to invade Iraq could ultimately prove to have been a masterstroke. Today the world is witnessing the birth of the first truly democratic state in the Middle East outside of Israel. Over eight million voted in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in 2005, and the region’s first free Muslim society may become a reality. Iraq might not be Turkey, but it is a powerful demonstration that freedom can flourish in the embers of the most brutal and barbaric of dictatorships.
The success of the surge in Iraq will go down in history as a turning point in the war against al-Qaeda. The stunning defeat of the insurgency was a major blow both militarily and psychologically for the terror network. The West’s most feared enemy suffered thousands of losses in Iraq, including many of their most senior commanders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Qaswarah. It was the most successful counter-insurgency operation anywhere in the world since the British victory in Malaya in 1960.
The broader war against Islamist terrorism has also been a success. There has not been a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and for all the global condemnation of pre-emptive strikes, Guantanamo and the use of rendition against terror suspects, the fact remains that Bush’s aggressive strategy actually worked.
As I’ve said before, I’m not of the impression that everything we’ve done has been a grand success. But I do think the world gained something from our sacrifice. Improving the lives and futures of 60M people is no small thing. Neither is stopping Al Quaeda.
[HT: Gateway Pundit]
Category: Foreign Affairs |