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was it worth it?

i heard an interviewer ask president bush not long ago if the iraq war was worth it. the president, of course, said that he thought so, but more interesting than his response was the question it prompted within me: if i had been president, had known what he knew and done what he did, would i feel the same way?

"was it worth it," struck me then as a softball question, but in retrospect, it's not as easy as it sounds. if "worth" is calculated in terms of the cost in american life as a result of the war versus the potential cost in american life had we done nothing, many would conclude it was most decidedly not. the iraq war was fought on the pretense of weapons of mass destruction and the threat they represented in the hands of terrorists, those weapons have not materialized, so what, exactly, are our soldiers dying for? to the left, where the bankruptcy of bush's iraq policy has ever been an article of blind faith, the president answering "yes" is thus all the more proof of his insanity.

i say "blind faith" because, once upon a time, leftists had to convince themselves that, while saddam probably did have WMD, the u.n. could be trusted to contain him in spite of saddam's failure to comply with every resolution they'd thrown his way. it remains true because they presently like nothing better than to say americans are dying in iraq for a lie, but in order to say that they've had to block out the inconvenient fact that, at the time the decisions were being made, everyone who mattered believed it was the truth--including bush.

so was it worth it? to answer that, put yourself in bush's shoes, and, just to make things interesting, let's assume that the left has basically got it right: bush lied about WMD. ok, that would mean he knew that saddam had no weapons of mass destruction from the start. it would further mean that he had some ulterior motive--avenge his father's honor, steal iraq's oil, distract people from his failure to capture bin laden, whatever. i can't keep up with all of these crackpot theories, so pick whichever tickles your fancy or invent one of your own.

so here you are, mr. president, hankering to go to war with iraq and knowing that you'll need to advance some sort of false pretense to do it. there are a lot of possibilities because, aside from osama, saddam is our arch-enemy. maybe you play up his atrocious human rights record, a record of oppression, torture, purgings, mass graves...or maybe you go with his ties to terrorism. maybe you take the geopolitical angle and emphasize that saddam is the most unstable player in the most unbalanced region in the world. the point is that there are many things you could say about saddam that are absolutely true...but you don't say any of them. you pick the one thing, in fact, that you know is absolutely false, that saddam has WMD, and you bank your political future (not to mention the lives of thousands of american soldiers) on it.

i think not.

that's not just stupid, it's insane. you'd never do that, and neither would bush. it's funny how the left plays up karl rove as some evil genius and yet he supposedly hatched the one scheme that was 100% guaranteed to fail? when CIA director george tenet looked the president in the eyes and told him that weapons of mass destruction were a "slam dunk," bush had no choice but to believe him and that would be equally true for any of us had we been in his shoes. the question then becomes, what do we do with that knowledge?

the truth is, if we'd plucked saddam from his spider hole and found a few million tons of serin gas squirreled away along with him, it wouldn't have made the slightest difference because the left is fundamentally incapable of getting it. they're stuck on september 10th, and always will be.

if we'd found saddam's weapons, the question would have been exactly the same: "was it worth it? why did we have to go now? what was the urgency? where was the clear and present danger?"

on september 11th, about half of the people in this country (51% as of last november) woke up. the other half briefly stirred, munched a handful of sleeping tablets, chased them with a hearty slug of jack daniel's, and haven't moved since. where was the threat? where was the clear and present danger? it was everywhere. it was all around us. al qaeda had always been a threat--had, in fact, killed hundreds of americans with utter impunity during clinton's tenure--we'd just never paid much attention. then all of the sudden we realized that these guys could hurt us. big time. and not just overseas, but they could hit us where we live. suddenly the scariest possibility in the world is a rogue dictator with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist buddies. and there happened to be an individual who fit that bill quite nicely. terrorists had not been given a chemical or biological weapon only through the forbearance of a madman. once you realize that, the question isn't "why now," but "why didn't we do this years ago?"

i'd have agree with president bush. the iraq war was worth it. at the time, no other decision made sense, and now that we're there, we have no choice but to win. and incidentally, we've managed to eliminate one of the last truly dangerous rogue dictators, freed millions of people, and brought hope for the future to a troubled region. what's more, the soldiers who are fighting believe in their mission, the people they are helping are deeply grateful, and we're all extremely proud of them.

locdog certainly is

BONUS: apropos absolutely nothing, i was watching the history channel last night and the quarry show was on. what could be duller than a show about quarries? not much else on so i stuck with it, and learned something kinda cool. limestone, when powdered and heated, becomes incandescent. so before they had electric lighbulbs figured out, they used to illuminate stages at theaters this way. hence the expression "in the limelight." betcha didn't know that, smartypants.



for an eye-opening read...

...check out our good friend joseph d'hippolito's article on michel sabbah, the latin patriarch of jerusalem. what does rome's highest-ranking prelate in the holy land think of his jewish neighbors?

Ours is an occupied country, which explains why people are tired and blow themselves up. The Israelis tell Palestinians: Stop the violence and you will have what you want without violence. But one has seen in the history of the last ten years that the Israelis have moved only when forced by violence. Unfortunately, nothing but violence makes people march. And not only here. Every country has been born in blood.

and that ain't the half of it.

locdog suggests you take a look