The Political Werewolf
If you know me, then you know I'm a big political nut. So, I've decided to add my own personal flavor to the realm of political discussion. We'll be talking about various issues - some of them having to do with current events, others perhaps more on a philosophical level. But in any case, you're free to respond to whatever you read here, either by E-mail or on the message board.
All righty, here we go.
It's Better Than You Think
Earlier in the week, the Memorial Day Holiday and the dedication of the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. helped give a little perspective on what's going on in Iraq today.
It couldn't have come at a better time: with a month to go before the transfer of power, the American public seemed to be getting weak-kneed at our situation there. After the prisoner abuse scandal being shoved down their throats for three weeks, the decapitation of Nick Berg, and the continuing reports of soldiers dying each day, there was a palpable shift in the attitude of our country that maybe this whole thing simply was not meant to be. Maybe Iraq is never going to become the model government we were hoping to build there. Maybe this whole thing was a failure, and after chasing Saddam and his cronies out of Baghdad a year ago, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into.
Luckily, we have a president in office who - despite the caterwaulings on the left who accuse otherwise - knows exactly what we're doing, and what it's going to take to get it done. George W. Bush has stayed the course in Iraq, despite hand grenade after hand grenade lobbed in his direction in an attempt to make this whole thing fall apart. Remember, one of the benefits of having a person in office who is principled is that he will follow through with his actions, even if it looks like things are going south, because he knows that in the long run the outcome will be worth it. Think about that when you have to choose between him and John Kerry - a man who couldn't decide if those SUVs in his garage are actually his.
What everyone doesn't seem to realize is that things were never headed south in the first place. I know there are a few people out there who look at that shake their heads, and say, "Loog, have you been living in a cave the last year? Look at what's happened! Almost 800 soldiers have died in Iraq! Insurgents have been terrorizing the Sunni triangle for months! We're abusing prisoners! And all this time, we haven't found a single WMD! This whole war was ill-fated from the start! How can you sit there and tell us anything positive about what's happened?"
Granted, the media has done a lot to convey the notion that we're falling over ourselves in Iraq - with the 24-hour coverage of the prisoner abuse scandal (which took place 5 months prior, is being handled by the authorities, and hasn't resurfaced since) and the daily reports of another soldier dying, very little has been reported about all the good stuff that has been going on as a result of our presence in Iraq. Schools and hospitals are being built. The country's once stagnant economy is being resuscitated. Iraqis now have a say in their own government. Muqtada al-Sadr is basically slinking into a corner and accepting his defeat.
Speaking of which, if Bush really wanted to, he could've solved the whole insurgence in Fallujah within a matter of hours, simply by carpet-bombing the city and turning the whole place into a pile of rubble. But he didn't. Why? Because he wanted the people of Iraq to see that we're the good guys. So we worked with the friendly people in town to slowly overwhelm the insurgents and prevent them from recruiting new members. We may have lost more soldiers this way, but the result of these actions validates that sacrifice. Not only did we defeat the insurgents, we did it in a way that most preserved the city and its people.
A lot of hay has also been made about how many soldiers have died in Iraq since the major combats ended. Unfortunately, it's been almost 60 years since we were last in a situation of this sort. The truth is, the occupation can be just as messy as the war sometimes. The Germans weren't entirely happy when we were occupying their country after World War II, but back then we were confident enough in our cause and our leadership to not worry what our former enemies thought of us. We needed to stay there until a government was put in place that would lead its people peacefully, and we weren't going to leave until that was finished. (And actually, we still haven't left - there are American bases in Germany to this day.)
What does all this have to do with Memorial Day? Well, let's think about this. The single most galvanizing moment in the country's history prior to the attack on 9/11 was World War II. Many historians and news commentators have likened those men and women who were young adults during that difficult time as the "Greatest Generation." The reason why is quite simple: the entire country came together, made immense sacrifices in the face of an uncertain future, resurrecting the country from the economic collapse of the past decade, to defeat the evils of Nazi Germany and Tojo's Japan. When you put the war we're fighting now side by side with the war that was fought 60 years ago, you'll see that in fact this isn't an abject failure. It's not even par for the course. It's one of the biggest successes our military has ever been a part of.
During WW2, 400,000 American soldiers lost their lives. That's an average of 100,000 a year from the attack in Pearl Harbor to V-J Day. 2,500 Americans died during the D-Day invasion of 1944. 1000 soldiers died during the training mission for D-Day. If Nancy Pelosi or John Kerry were around in 1944, they'd be standing at the podium calling D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge a defeat of gargantuan proportions. Contrapositively, if we only averaged 700 deaths a year during World War II, there wouldn't have been a need to fight that war to begin with.
Some opponents snidely chime in with the argument that since Bush made that landing on an aircraft carrier and declared major combat operations over, that that's when we started taking losses. That may be true, but that's why Bush didn't say the war was over. Saddam Hussein was gone, the Baathist regime was removed from power, and now it was time for the mesy stuff: picking up the pieces of a once proud civilization left to rot by a megalomaniacal despot and try to fit a number of different tribes who don't always see eye-to-eye into a running democracy. Our own country took almost 10 years between winning our independence from Great Britain and the ratification of the Constitution; one year after Saddam's ousting, the freshly-grown Iraq is almost ready to walk on its own two feet.
As I've said before, liberals feast on bad news. It's the only way they can hold on to their power: by scaring and demoralizing the public into thinking that things are a whole lot worse than they are. Their rhetoric is nothing but pessimism: the war is a failure, the economy is in shambles, racism is still a way of life in the country, seniors have to eat dog food to afford prescriptions. They make it sound as if the only thing between you and a life of destitution is the almighty federal government. They have no faith in the individual, and if anything good ever does happen, there's got to be a catch or conspiracy behind it. When you compare the way things are today with the way things were when the Greatest Generation were our age, though, you'll see that our circumstances are much better than liberals will have you believe.