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Victor Davis Hanson: With a Whimper. How the violence in Iraq will end.
NRO ^ | October 21, 2005 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 10/21/2005 5:40:01 AM PDT by Tolik

The Western media was relatively quiet about the quite amazing news from the recent trifecta in Iraq: very little violence on election day, Sunni participation, and approval of the constitution. Those who forecasted that either the Sunnis would boycott, or that the constitution would be — and should be — rejected, stayed mum.

But how odd that in the face of threats, a higher percentage of Iraqis in this nascent democracy voted in a referendum than did we Americans during our most recent presidential election — we who have grown so weary of Iraq’s experiment.

Something must be going on when the cable-news outlets could not whet their appetite for carnival-like violence and pyrotechnics in Iraq, and so diverted their attention to Toledo, where live streams of American looting and arson seemed to be more like Iraq than Iraq.

There have been three great challenges with the Iraqi reconstruction that would determine its success or failure — once the spectacular three-week invasion both falsely raised public perceptions of perfection in war, and posed the problem of how to rebuild an entire society whose pathological elements were never really defeated, much less humiliated during the actual conventional war.

 

It's Not An American Face You See Now

By needs we had a high profile, and it unfortunately seemed to get only higher. Americans, not Iraqis, gave lectures on everything from electricity production to constitutional reform. There was essentially no Iraqi army, so Americans were put in the unenviable position of enforcing law and order — a necessary task that nonetheless could only breed resentment in the heart of the Arab and Islamic Middle East. And there was not even a semblance of a legitimate government to replace Saddam. Former dissidents were either dead or tainted with Western exile. Future democrats were in the shadows, unsure whether the beheaders and assassins might in fact turn out to be their new Taliban-like rulers.

A good way to predict accurately our future in Iraq would be to ask how these three dilemmas have evolved over the last 30 months. Fortunately, there is no replacement position for an American proconsul, and we have forgotten how rare it is now to see an American on television in any official position. No one is talking, at least publicly, of future bases or a permanent and large American presence. Instead, the Iraqis are more worried that we might leave than stay. All that is a good sign.

Second, with over 200,000 Iraqi security forces, various local policemen, and American and Coalition troops, there are perhaps nearly 400,000 actively opposed to the terrorists. The number is growing rather than shrinking. We are seeing more enlistments than defections. The result is that, incrementally and insidiously, Americans are less and less in the position of being the cop, swat-team, or battalion that Iraqis see daily as the providers of their order and security. As in the case of fewer visible diplomats, so too fewer observable soldiers shift the onus onto the Iraqis to solidify — or lose — their gift of democracy.

Third, a second national referendum was even more tranquil than the first. Things are not static in Iraq, but are on a clear path to key parliamentary elections and the first truly popularly elected government in the region’s history in December. This is already putting enormous pressures on the Syrians and some of the Gulf states, as Arab audiences see less Americans patrolling and more Iraqis voting on their television screens. And now we go from a humane and sober election to the trial of Saddam Hussein, as the first tyrant to be tried in the Middle East experiences the justice that neither he nor any other regional strongman ever granted to others.

On the periphery of all this, we are seeing a decline in Osama bin Laden’s popularity, more European worries about radical Islam, and a number of formerly ambivalent nations like Japan, India, and the former Commonwealth ever more eager to work with the United States.

Iraq? Huh?

And the reaction at home? Apparently no matter. The media has long since written Iraq off as a “quagmire” and a “debacle.” The war is now hopelessly politicized and has been misrepresented in two national elections. Then we heard that the war’s purpose was either to steal oil (the price actually skyrocketed), enrich Halliburton (in fact, few other conglomerates wished to venture to Iraq), or do Israel’s dirty work (it just withdrew voluntarily from Gaza). Our aims were said to be anything other than to remove the worst dictator in modern memory, allow the Arab world a chance at democracy, and undo the calculus of Middle-Eastern terrorism that is so parasitic on the failures and barbarity of regional autocracies.

While no mainstream Democrat has yet gone the McGovern route, it is still politically toxic for any to state publicly that we should be optimistic about the future of Iraq, inasmuch as they are convinced that such an admission could only help George W. Bush. Some of us who are Democrats are baffled that the party that used to decry cynical realism, gave us the Truman Doctrine and JFK’s tough stance against Communism, galvanized us to hold steady in WWI, WWII, and Korea, and preached that we must promote and protect democracies, is now either joining the isolationist Right or drifting into quasi-pacifism — or simply standing against anything that the opposing party is for.

The public too is turned off. Perhaps it is the constant media stream of IEDs and suicide bombs — never the news of thousands of new schools, a free and stable Kurdistan, progress in the Shiite south, or any of the other countless positive developments from elections to Saddam’s trial. Polls reveal that the American people care little that, in terms of military history, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the creation of a constitutional government in his place — in less than three years and at the cost of 2000 lives — are still formidable achievements, making the lapses seem minor in comparison to those in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

No, we have now gone too far for all that. And how could we not, after the wild charges of Richard Clarke, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Joe Wilson, the celebrity venom of everyone from Sean Penn to Donald Sutherland, the media revelations of Rathergate, Eason Jordan’s false charges that our military targets journalists, and Newsweek’s falsities about flushed Korans?

Don’t forget either the contributions of U.S. senators such as Dick Durbin (comparing our Guantanamo guards to Nazi, Stalinist, and Cambodian murderers) or Ted Kennedy (claiming Abu Ghraib was reopened for the same Saddam-type atrocities by Americans), who did their small part to libel those who gave freedom to millions. Whatever the good news of this election or the one in December — much less the increasing isolation of the nearby tyrant Assad, the flowering in Lebanon, and the rumbles in the Gulf and Egypt — it won’t make much difference anymore to the American people. They have decided that they are tired of the Middle East and only want to go back to the world before 9/11, forgetting that the easy shoot-a-cruise-missile-at-a-cave strategy ultimately led to the 9/11 attacks.

In similar fashion, don’t expect any appreciation from Europe. Long ago its corrupt media refashioned Iraq as an American imperial misadventure that must fail. Perhaps it was the innate jealousy and anti-Americanism that had grown up in recent years, as Europe remained stagnant while others pressed ahead.

Or the angst may derive from Europeans’ own conniving triangulation, as they worry about oil supplies, fear terrorism, and grow wary of the Muslims on their home soil. In a more crass sense, the French government was deeply intertwined in the Hussein octopus, starting with Jacques Chirac overseeing the building of the Iraqi nuclear reactor to the final embarrassment of Oil-for-Food.

We don’t expect much either from Arab intellectuals. Most determined a priori that whatever America was for, they were against. Very soon they found a way to jettison their out-of-date “America is a cynical realist who backs dictators” into the new party-line, “America is a fool that rams down foreign democracy and misplaced idealism.”

This was a subsidized toady culture that didn’t care much what Saddam or the Assads did — they were at least Arabs who killed other Arabs, after all. Indeed, most Egyptian or Gulf elites excused their own complicity with homegrown dictatorships by vilifying the Americans when they were realists and then ridiculing them when they turned idealists. So Arab mythmaking will provide any needed exegesis of Iraq to explain how the most frowned-upon people of the Middle East under Saddam will soon be the most respected under themselves.

We are left only with the U.S. military. It is without much overt public support in Iraq, demonized in Europe, and feared and resented in the Arab world. And yet had American forces lost in Afghanistan, stumbled in Iraq, or given up on the democracy, there would now be no hope for the 50 million who voted in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So when this is all over — and it will be more quickly than we imagine — there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.

Most of us tragically will forget many of the American soldiers who courageously fought, died, and gave the Middle East its freedom and us our security. Purple fingers, not overloaded American helicopters taking off from the embassy roof, is the future of Iraq.

Yes, the terrorists’ assault against the Iraqi democracy will end — as all failed insurrections do — not with a bang but with a whimper.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His book A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War appears this month.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iraq; islamism; jihad; jihadists; left; msm; theleft; vdh; victordavishanson; victory; waronterror; wot

1 posted on 10/21/2005 5:40:03 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: neverdem; Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; yonif; SJackson; dennisw; monkeyshine; Alouette; ...


    Victor Davis Hanson Ping ! 

       Let me know if you want in or out.

Links: FR Index of his articles:  http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson 
His website: http://victorhanson.com/     NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp

2 posted on 10/21/2005 5:41:11 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik

It's a quagmire...


3 posted on 10/21/2005 5:42:52 AM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: Tolik

Good read.


4 posted on 10/21/2005 5:47:06 AM PDT by FMBass (“Now that I’m sober I watch a lot of news” – Garofalo: From “Treason” by Coulter)
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To: Tolik

Hanson..BUMP!


5 posted on 10/21/2005 5:50:54 AM PDT by MEG33 (GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES)
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6 posted on 10/21/2005 5:51:07 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik

Not a bad article that I agree with.


7 posted on 10/21/2005 5:53:21 AM PDT by hawkaw
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To: Tolik

-b-


8 posted on 10/21/2005 5:57:09 AM PDT by rellimpank (urbanites don' t understand the cultural deprivation of not being raised on a farm:NRABenefactor)
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To: rellimpank

Nice counterpoint to all you armchair naysayers.

Wrong again guys...like always.


9 posted on 10/21/2005 6:04:11 AM PDT by CBart95
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To: Tolik

VDH bump!


10 posted on 10/21/2005 6:08:00 AM PDT by metesky (This land was your land, this land is MY land; I bought the rights from a town selectman!)
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To: Tolik

The anti-American, hate-filled Left is screaming into the wind--the very wind that blows against everything their malice begs for. Truth is against them, and the people of the world thirst for Truth.


11 posted on 10/21/2005 6:10:29 AM PDT by Savage Beast (The internet is the newspaper of record.)
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To: Tolik

LIES! IT'S ALL LIES! HALIBURTON! WAR FOR OIL! BUSH LIED, GOOD MEN DIED!

Stop confusing us with facts!

Being a lefty is easy...

;~>


12 posted on 10/21/2005 6:13:16 AM PDT by corlorde (New Hampshire)
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Admin Moderator

Worthy of a sidebar? An informed Freeper is worthy advocate.

Thanks.


14 posted on 10/21/2005 6:16:07 AM PDT by rightinthemiddle (We Self-Destruct. We Blame Bush. That'll Show 'Em!)
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To: Savage Beast
The anti-American, hate-filled Left is screaming into the wind--the very wind that blows against everything their malice begs for.

But to them hypocrisy is a virtue. They will quickly do as Hanson says and morph into this:

So when this is all over — and it will be more quickly than we imagine — there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.

15 posted on 10/21/2005 7:03:33 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Tolik

Excellent piece by VDH.

Semper Fi,
Kelly


16 posted on 10/21/2005 7:11:39 AM PDT by kellynla (U.S.M.C. 1st Battalion,5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Div. Viet Nam 69&70 Semper Fi)
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To: Tolik

*Applause* I love that man. :)


17 posted on 10/21/2005 7:26:33 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Tolik

Iraq is Liberated now. Their future is democratic.
The terrorists are in a quagmire and will lose.
Thank you American military.

PING


18 posted on 10/21/2005 7:29:27 AM PDT by WOSG (http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com/)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
Marxist theory requires increasing social and political contradictions as a component of mass radicalization. The problem is, the contradictions should be increased among reactionary exploiters, not revolutionary heroes.

The left is a danger, but it is becoming laughable (please see DUFunnies for Thursday, South Park Katrina satire). The hard-core hatemongers of Democratic Undergraound are typical examples of hate gone mad on contemporary far-left liberal internal contradictions.

19 posted on 10/21/2005 7:45:46 AM PDT by TheGeezer
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To: Tolik

Another VDH home run.


20 posted on 10/21/2005 7:51:16 AM PDT by JamesP81
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To: Tolik

Once we capture Bin Laden and/or Zarqawi, the public mood in America will get much better regarding the war on terror in general and the war in Iraq in particular.


21 posted on 10/21/2005 7:51:36 AM PDT by jveritas (The Axis of Defeatism: Left wing liberals, Buchananites, and third party voters.)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
So when this is all over — and it will be more quickly than we imagine — there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.

Which is exactly what the left has tried to do with Reagan's success in defeating Communism.

22 posted on 10/21/2005 8:06:48 AM PDT by carolinablonde (Proud member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)
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To: Tolik

What a project! Compiling all of the media lies about the Iraq war.

If done, it would rival the size of the compilation of Alamo-girl's Clinton files.


23 posted on 10/21/2005 8:34:53 AM PDT by listenhillary (The MEDIA is NOT a branch of government)
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To: Tolik

Thanks for the ping, I was wondering when he was going to chime in about the election, have been looking for this piece all week.

I have a friend who is re-enlisting for the third time. He served as personal protection for Allawi in his second deployment, and is now going back in November for a third round as Wyoming National Guard.

He is simply a hero!

Here is my blog entry on the election:

http://www.naturalfamilyblog.com/archives/000081.html

Let Freedom Ring.

Jenny


24 posted on 10/21/2005 9:07:29 AM PDT by Jenny Hatch (Go Iraq Go!)
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To: TheGeezer

I only visited DU a couple of times and that has been awhile but my impression was it was just a bunch of loud mouthed kids trying to out radicalize each other. I consider them a gathering place for useful idiots.

Now Soros, the Clintons, and the old DNC operatives, Dean is just for contrast, are truly dangerous. They are shrewd, unprincipled and extremely ambitious. Most of the MSM are useful idiots as are the Hollywood bunch. They are a source of financing and free propaganda. Labor uniopns are other Communist operatives who supply lots of money and support.


25 posted on 10/21/2005 10:00:06 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: jveritas
Once we capture Bin Laden and/or Zarqawi, the public mood in America will get much better regarding the war on terror in general and the war in Iraq in particular.

Agreed. To a point. Who would have thought that Sadaam Hussein would have ever been molded into a human rights rallying point as the victim? These same people will find a way to turn Bin Laden and Zarqawi into martyrs as well (guaranteed, you heard it here first)

No amount of pictures of mass graves, depositions of witnesses and victims of actual torture, beheading video's etc.. will convince people who are willing to twist the facts and lie about anything no matter how horrendous just so they can fall on an imaginary sword.
26 posted on 10/21/2005 10:05:08 AM PDT by contemplator (Capitalism gets no Rock Concerts)
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To: contemplator
Agreed; however these people will not amount to the majority of the public and more importantly to the majority of voters.
27 posted on 10/21/2005 10:09:06 AM PDT by jveritas (The Axis of Defeatism: Left wing liberals, Buchananites, and third party voters.)
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To: carolinablonde
Which is exactly what the left has tried to do with Reagan's success in defeating Communism.

That is an excellent example but they do it so often we now consider it background noise. Every success by a Republican administration is yawned at and ignored, often not even reported, while every perceived pimple is ballyhooed as terminal cancer.

Not many years ago their tactics were considered novelties and were discussed, if at all, in conservative think tanks and intellectual publications. They were rarely described to the masses. Now their tactics have become a constant drumbeat of everyday life. Those pointing them out, us, are labeled right wing kooks. That is why they are trying to censor the internet and silence talk radio.

Their present strategy is to paint Republicans as a "culture of corruption" and enforce the idea with numerous accusations and investigations. Their ace in the hole will be election fraud while screaming that the Republicans are trying to steal another election.

28 posted on 10/21/2005 10:14:53 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: contemplator

They will attempt to turn the Saddam trial into a media circus that will put the O.J. trial to shame. Let's hope the Iraqi judges control the process better than Ito.


29 posted on 10/21/2005 10:19:09 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Tolik

this is good. thanks for the ping.


30 posted on 10/21/2005 11:52:14 AM PDT by King Prout (like flies to wanton boys are trolls to the Mods - they ZOT 'em for their sport.)
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To: Tolik
Victor Davis Hanson Ping !

Put me on, he is one of my favorites.

31 posted on 10/21/2005 12:09:06 PM PDT by oldbrowser (A living, breathing constitution is a usurpation of the people's sovereignty.)
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To: Tolik
The Western media was relatively quiet about the quite amazing news from the recent trifecta in Iraq: very little violence on election day, Sunni participation, and approval of the constitution.

MSM ignored how rapidly the successful end is approaching.

32 posted on 10/21/2005 12:52:06 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
Of course you and Hanson are right.

The Left--and notably the Leftist "Mainstream Newsmedia"--has an agenda, and it is not Truth.

The only decent and honorable agenda of any news organization or journalist is Truth for its own sake.

Unfortunately, Truth conflicts with the agenda of the American "Mainstream Newsmedia" and its so-called "journalists", and, for this reason alone, they have and will always have only the contempt of decent, truth loving people, who are and will be the majority.

33 posted on 10/21/2005 1:07:34 PM PDT by Savage Beast (The internet is the newspaper of record.)
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To: carolinablonde

Perfect analogy.


34 posted on 10/21/2005 4:50:55 PM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: ncountylee

I love to read old newspapers to get the conventional wisdom at a particular time. It's amazing how far off some of them were and still are.


35 posted on 10/21/2005 4:54:45 PM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: Tolik
Best article I've read in weeks.

Fwd to the various leftists at KGO radio, S.F..

36 posted on 10/21/2005 5:08:36 PM PDT by muleskinner
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
...my impression was it was just a bunch of loud mouthed kids trying to out radicalize each other.

Excellent point. When I do wander over - for the same reasons one might gaze fearfully at a horrible car wreck on a highway - it takes me a few minutes to realize that what I'm reading is most likely being written by "politically active" juveniles.

That kinda puts it all in perspective.

37 posted on 10/22/2005 4:09:56 AM PDT by StatenIsland
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