reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Category: Iran (Page 1 of 3)

V.I. Day 2011

In 2008, blogger “Zombie” published a thoughtful, well-reasoned post discussing the conditions for victory in Iraq, and calling for November 22nd to be observed as “Victory in Iraq Day”. Continued progress and relative stability over the three years since seems to me to have vindicated that judgment, and in line with what I wrote on the occasion that year, I think we ought to carry on the tradition. The U.S. and her allies achieved what many vehemently declared was impossible, ousting one of the world’s worst dictators, liberating the Iraqi people, and planting the seeds of freedom and representative democracy in what has been one of the most politically troubled and volatile regions of the globe. Today’s Iraq has its challenges and problems, to be sure, but it is a place far more full of genuine hope than it had been under two decades of Saddam’s brutal dictatorship, and stands as a stark and unflattering counterexample to the remaining dictatorships that surround it, have acted to undermine it, and feel their grip on power threatened by its very existence. Those are all things to be grateful for and to celebrate.

Even President Obama, who as a senator vigorously opposed what he declared to be an ill-motivated, ill-conceived, and unwinnable Iraq war, and as a candidate opportunistically vilified the war and the Bush administration, promising an immediate withdrawal of our troops if elected, no matter the consequences, has had to quietly concede that the U.S. won the very war he campaigned against. Once in office, and I suspect apprised of facts and perspective that only presidents and their military advisors have access to, he scrapped his promises of immediate and unconditional retreat and defeat to embrace the same overall policies and drawdown plan of the Bush administration that he previously demonized.

The Bush administration didn’t take it upon itself to declare victory, and it was clear that neither candidate Obama nor the press were about to do any such thing. It was up to others to do so, and I’m grateful to Zombie and the participants in 2008’s V-I Day for leading the way.

Victory in Iraq Day banner

I’m not one to focus on the negative, but there is something I hope will not be forgotten about this war, that I fear history books will not amply record: the way that victory was achieved despite the most intense vilification of American conduct and motives that I have seen in my lifetime. The opposition brought their biggest rhetorical guns to bear, some among them stopping at nothing and accusing us of the most vile, malevolent intentions. We were charged by some with going to Iraq to steal their oil, to claim the land as a permanent colony of our vast, overbearing Empire, or simply for the implicit joy of killing dark-skinned people. There are people for whom it is a foregone conclusion that such actions are clearly and exactly what the United States is all about, for whom we are the exact polar opposite of all that we claim to stand for, because in order for those people to win hearts and minds it must be made to be so. The record of our actual conduct proved otherwise, casting our soldiers’ actions in start contrast with the brutality of foreign fighters who committed themselves to the failure of the Iraqi project at all costs, deliberately inflicting the kind of mass civilian casualties that the United States takes greater pains than any combatant in history to avoid. Sadly, history’s record will not prevent the same accusations from being endlessly recycled. We will fight identical smears again in future conflicts — I feel sure of it — and we had therefore best learn from this experience and be mentally prepared to battle the same calumnies again.

As I wrote on my recently added “Welcome” page, and meant it: I feel deeply, humbly grateful and indebted beyond capacity for adequate repayment to the men and women of the United States armed forces, and equally so to our truest friends in this world, the soldiers of our stalwart allied nations, who daily risk everything they have in this brief life for the liberty and safety of others, setting aside even their own. Let there be no doubt: I want them to have the full support that their risk and sacrifice merits, and I want them to be given every chance to succeed that they ask of us — precious little to expect, I think, in return. They have my sincerest admiration, and with remarkably few exceptions that serve to prove the rule, I am deeply, deeply proud of their demonstrated ethics, courage, fairness, generosity, resourcefulness, and professional conduct as our emissaries in hostile lands. The precious, fragile free society that we so often take for granted is the very thing they are risking all to preserve and defend, and they should have our heartfelt gratitude.

Marines passing out Spirit-of-America-provided school supplies in Ramadi, Iraq

To those who risked all to make Iraq’s liberation possible, and to those who lost all making it happen, may you forever have the gratitude of the freer world you left behind. You are the best of us, in my book, and we are lucky to count you as our fellow citizens.

US and UK troops make preparations in Kuwait, 2003

US marine flying colors, Kuwait, 2003

the famous toppling of a Saddam Hussein statue

For additional perspective, see Bill Whittle’s September 2011 “What We Did Right,” which, among its survey of the decade since the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks, examines the results of our intervention in Iraq.

Tyrants Heart Our Useful Idiots

Foreign enemy sworn to our total destruction, or unhinged domestic-Left social critic inveighing that we deserve the same? Who can tell any difference in the rhetoric these days?

At Digital Journal, via Instapundit:

In Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most recent televised speech on Iran State TV, the Iranian President upped the ante on his promised February 11 “telling blow against global arrogance” with his prediction of the “end of American civilization.”

“This means the end of a civilization, the end of a thought, and the end of a system.” That is how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad qualified his statement regarding the “end of American civilization” that he referred to in his most recent televised speech in homage to the ‘Ten Day Dawn’ anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Events will culminate on February 11th with “a telling blow against global arrogance,” according to the Iranian President’s previous speech marking the opening of ceremonies for the anniversary. During this most recent speech, Ahmadinejad claimed that the West, the United States in particular, had been the biggest historical impediment to the worldwide Islamic Revolution:

“The arrogant and hegemonic powers, which mankind experienced in the past 300 years – and past 60 years in particular – have been the biggest historical impediment in the face of fulfillment of this goal (worldwide Islamic revolution),” he said, according to the BBC.

Ahmadinejad went on to declare that the “materialistic and hegemonic (American) system” was dead, and that slogans about freedom, human rights and democracy had misled the world, further declaring that America “has no thoughts or means other than the use of arms to prove themselves.” As with his cryptic allusion to the ‘telling blow’ on February 11, the Iranian president provided no specifics on what would bring about America’s end and focused more on polemics, perhaps to rally his domestic Islamist audience. Calls of “Death to America” and the burning of US flags have been political staples in Iran for thirty years.

If that whole “wiping Israel off the map” and installing a global caliphate thing doesn’t work out, I’m sure Ahmadinejad could easily land an honored position lecturing at an American university. No doubt he’d delight faculty lounge and commencement audiences alike with his incisive takedowns of Western decadence, “arrogance”, and “imperialism”.

A man of his stature and worldly experience (facing down those mythical Western “imperialists”) would probably be spared the tedium of having to teach the pedestrian “Why America Is Uniquely Evil 101” intro course, proceeding directly to coaching graduate students in their independent investigations into Western sins. Granted, he’s not a Marxist (totalitarians of competing stripes are never too keen on shared world domination, but can make cozy if strange bedfellows in the short term) — but I think A-jad will fit in just fine.

Does it ever dawn on our culture’s self-appointed domestic critics, when they witness the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez parroting their indictments of America and the West and playing to their credulous sympathies with great virtuosity, that they’ve been handing ideological ammo to implacable enemies who want them dead or subservient too? Or that our enemies hear, and will gleefully repeat to their rhetorical advantage, every self-recrimination we speak in our public squares? No, they probably take it as independent validation and pat themselves on the back. “Great minds think alike.”

Useful idiots all the way.

The phrase “aid and comfort” comes to mind…

Chavez holding Chomsky aloft

Chavez holding Chomsky aloft while delivering his own anti-U.S. invective at the U.N. in September 2006. (He wouldn’t hesitate a moment, of course, to imprison an anti-Chavez Venezuelan “Chomsky”.)

Thanksgiving Thoughts

…of others — still just as relevant the day after:

Victor Davis Hanson: “Some Random Politically-incorrect Reasons to Be Optimistic on Thanksgiving Day”. (Appreciation of dedicated pilots and the wonder of air travel hardly seems “un-PC”, but I suppose his other points qualify.)

Bill Whittle celebrates the life of a friend recently lost.

Neo recalls a Thanksgiving spent alone, in “Thanks for the burger, but no thanks”. (I’ve been there!)

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