The latest revelation from David Kay about the weapons of mass destruction seems to confirm the belief, by some, that invading Iraq was not necessary.
I was one of those opposed to invading Iraq. I did not think the benefit was worth the cost. I changed my mind, though, and will subsequently explain why. Before I do it is vitally important that the most important question about Iraq is answered. The question is: Was this trip necessary?
This is the $64 question about Iraq. The question that needs to be answered for those in uniform in Iraq, for those who have returned, those who are crippled, and those who have not returned. It needs to be answered especially for the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Was this trip necessary?
In order to answer this one must review the facts.
No one really wanted to go to war except Hussein and the Ba'athists. They indicated that they did not intend to cooperate with the world community. They routinely demonstrated that they had no problem engaging in wholesale slaughter. They indicated that they wanted to participate in worldwide terrorism campaigns and that they wanted to establish a pan-Arab world.
All of these concepts have been verified repeatedly by the discoveries made as a result of our military action. Mass graves have been discovered that contained about 300,000 people. The actual total of innocents killed by Saddam and the Ba'athists could be in the millions -- people who were slaughtered for no reason other than that they did not like Saddam or did not want to be part of a Ba'athist Iraq.
We have captured terrorists - wanted by the international community for decades - who were being harbored by Saddam.
We have captured terrorist training facilities in Iraq.
We have learned that Saddam and his Baathists were communicating and sharing resources with al-Qaeda.
We have learned that Saddam and the Ba'athists were bribing at least one member of the British government to protest any sanctions or war, and financing Muslim terrorists in Israel – all while his own people starved.
We have gained access to the intelligence files of the Ba'athist intelligence unit and now know more about terrorist operations worldwide than we ever knew.
So yes, Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athists were a concern for the world. Like Fascism, Nazism, and Communism, it was an ideology of genocide and slavery, one that would cause destruction and chaos worldwide. Ba'athism was a philosophy of racism and hatred, joined in a common cause with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda for a common purpose if not a common policy.
We learned in the 20th Century that whenever a superior nation seeks to return to its halcyon days of empire, that whenever a superior race or a superior ideology wants to impose their beliefs we must eliminate them.
The Hamas covenant, Osama bin Laden’s November 2002 letter to the people of the United States, and Saddam Hussein’s Ba'athist ideology all reveal an intent to a establish a pan-Arab world. The Ba'athists dreamed of a revival of the days of Saladin’s empire, much the way Mussolini dreamed of a new Roman Empire, or Hitler a new German Empire, or Tojo an Empire of the Sun.
The Germans with whom the Arabs were allied in World War II, and the Communists with whom they were occasionally allied during the Cold War influenced the Ba'athists. Their leaders and founders studied in Europe and learned about totalitarian infrastructures and procedures.
So yes, this trip was necessary. As much as I did not think it was initially, I do so now.
In the coming weeks and months many – for purely politically partisan reasons – will say to the Iraq war veterans that they were fooled and duped to participate in this war. They will say that Bush lied. They will say America is to blame. They will say that we taught the Arabs to hate us. They will say that we exploited them. They will say we are the evildoers.
Our veterans should not believe them. The veterans were not fools. They were intelligent and courageous. Our veterans know that this war against Iraq was a necessary part of the war against terrorism despite what a Carnegie fellow wrote. They know that this fire that was Ba'athism needed to be extinguished before it became a conflagration - an inferno that consumed the world the way Nazism, Japanese imperialism and Communism did.
The worth of the war in Iraq will be difficult to gauge. Like preventive law enforcement one cannot ascertain the benefit because the cost of will never be known. It will only be a matter of postulation. No one will ever know for certain what would have happened had we not sacrificed those lives.
Although it is not certain it is probably safe to say that those 500 probably saved the lives of 5,000 or 50,000 or 500,000.
We must remember that and not mention their sacrifice glibly or academically. We must remember their sacrifice with reverence.