I suppose that now is as good a time as any to clarify where I stand on this war. Over the many months as the focus shifted from Osama to Saddam, my contention has been that – yes – we would win this war and it would be quick. I had and still have my concerns about the fighting our soldiers will encounter once they hit Baghdad on the ground as well as what Iraqi civilians might endure (collateral damage, food aid), but the outcome of this conflict from a military standpoint has always been predetermined.
My concern is and always has been – what happens after? For now, Iraq is obviously better off without Hussein in control but our true legacy, as it is in Afghanistan, is what we leave behind us. An Iraq free of Hussein only to be run by an American military general or a leader that is picked by us and not the Iraqi people will tell the American and British soldiers who have died so far that their deaths were in vain.
I have always felt that while it is well within our place to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and inhibit their capability to threaten their neighbors, it isn’t our business to pick their leader for them. I think that once America gets into the business of just knocking out leaders who don’t directly threaten us, but who we may not like – that sets very dangerous precedent and the strong possibility of “blowback”.
I believe in the military as a defensive and not expansive tool in our arsenal. All things considered, I prefer (heck, advocate!) expanding an America Empire through our commerce and culture rather than at the end of a cannon. Better to sell them McDonald’s and blue jeans and Britney Spears than pummel them with MOABs, B-52s, and Abrams tanks.