Monday, December 01, 2008

Thank you George Bush

The media and the left's narrative on President Bush was always wrong.

Bush was right.

First and foremost, Saddam Hussein-a state sponsor of terrorism, a producer of weapons of mass destruction, a warmonger, and a genocidal maniac-is gone. The threat he posed was a nagging concern to Bill Clinton, but Clinton, lacking the political will or perhaps a good excuse, was content to consider Saddam trapped in a box. George W. Bush didn't have that luxury. After the September 11 attacks the stakes were raised and Bush understood the world could not tolerate the presence of someone like Saddam, who defied all international challenges and was actively subverting the restraints upon him.

For the last five years, Saddam has been viewed, in retrospect, as having been harmless, but that is only because he was deposed and captured by forces acting on George Bush's orders, then tried and hanged by the Iraqi people. The Baathist regime is no more.

In the 1990s, anyone who told you Iraq would be a functioning, U.S.-allied democracy within a few short years would have been laughed out of the room. It has come at tremendous cost in both American and Iraqi lives. It is reasonable to assume, however, given the massive ethnic blood toll Saddam inflicted to maintain his regime, that establishing a Western-leaning Iraqi democracy has been accomplished with only a fraction of the violence that would have taken place absent U.S. intervention. Iran, while it meddles and wields deadly influence, has been kept at arm's length in the process, when Iran and Syria might both have been expected to descend on a post-Saddam Iraq. This highly dangerous region is stable-and has hope of remaining so.

The very concept of democracy in the region received a major boost when Arabs saw millions of Iraqis voting while under threat of death. This evolution is playing out in fits and starts in Lebanon and even the Palestinian territories, where voters have learned that the democratic process only begins with a vote. When Hamas chose to reward its backers with a bloodbath and international isolation, George Bush used that opportunity to draw an unprecedented gathering for former adversaries together to talk peace. Meanwhile, the very delicate Pakistan has advanced, with U.S. support, from military rule to elected civilian rule and remains an ally, if a problematic one, in America's war on Islamic extremism.

George W. Bush did not solve all the problems of the world's most troubled and dangerous region. But, for all his shortcomings, he has moved them forward and established the United States as the dominant agent for change in the Middle East. Consider the mess Obama would be inheriting in the region if the Bush administration had just sat on its thumbs-Ahmadinejad's Iran with an even further advanced nuclear arms program, an aging Saddam installing one of his psychopathic sons in power or Iraq being torn apart in a genocidal nightmare. Imagine all the regimes of the region, unchastened and unimpressed by the U.S. exercise of power, looking for any weakness or advantage to exploit and quite possibly finding it in al Qaeda and its affiliates.

In an interview published in a London newspaper five years before 9-11, Osama talked about how disgraceful Somalia was for us. He said we moved in tens of thousands of soldiers and then he said this:

"However when...(many) of your soldiers were killed in minor battles and one American pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadish, you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat, and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of you impotence and weaknessses became very clear"

We will not leave Iraq "carrying disappointment, humiliation, or defeat." We will leave Iraq in victory and helping turn a page in history. Osama and those that follow him no longer see us as impotent and weak. That is why we stayed safe. We confronted the bully instead of ignoring him.

Thank you George Bush.