Self-determination is an infectious drug and millions of Iraqis experienced its euphoria this weekend. Days after the post-election tally is fully realized, both the followers of al-Qaeda’s Abu Musab Al Zarqawi and those against the war in Iraq will come to realize that whenever a population is subjected to sweeping butchery and denied freedom, the citizens of that country will always prefer the outsider stopping the slaughter to the insider performing it. These results will also answer the cynics like Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, who asked, “How will these elections reduce the violence?” Easily, because unlike poll survey questions that consistently show a likely Iraqi preference for democracy, an election confirms it in stone before the world. More importantly, Iraqis themselves enjoy the exacting affirmation of just how many fellow Iraqi’s feel the same animus against those who would thwart their liberty. Regardless of whom they supported at the ballot box, the act of casting that vote was an act of defiance against Zarqawi’s threat to kill those who would do so. Islamic fundamentalists can no more expect support from their would-be oppressed than Old South plantation owners could have from their slaves.
Those expressing the greatest doubt over Iraq’s eventual success are the ones who’ve been most critical of the war such as Democratic Senators Mark Dayton, D-MN; Tom Harkin, D-IA; and Barbara Boxer, D-CA. It’s as if they’d prefer a bloody failure so as to protect the validity of their original arguments against liberating Iraq. They work to this end by constantly citing the death toll of American troops while excluding from their rhetoric the daily triumphs derived from those sacrifices. This is insulting to both the fallen and the still-endangered. There appears to be no contextual proportionality when both antiwar politicos and the global media selectively emphasize setbacks over achievements.
As a guest on my show, former Clinton White House Counsel and CNN “Crossfire” co-host Paul Begala told me that this is because “you never cover planes landing on time and safely.” In his defense, that is a popular rationale – and it’s rubbish. What drives the legitimacy of a news story isn’t whether it’s good or bad. What drives its legitimacy is whether or not it’s eventful! If the stock market goes up, we cover it; if housing starts rise, we cover it; if employment increases, we cover it; when crime drops, we cover it; and, when the poverty index is on the decline, we cover that, too. The reason we don’t cover a plane landing on time and safely is because that’s not eventful (although, given the current state of our airline industry, perhaps that will change). Simply put, there’s no journalistic foundation upon which to base the ignoring of troop accomplishments while reporting their losses.
As a centrist, I’ll reject and embrace arguments from both Republicans and Democrats (when I’m not busy thinking they’re both out of their minds). Like many Yanks, I’m an admixture of both progressive and conservative leanings and feel guided by the Constitution coupled with a rabid allegiance to “fair-play.” Consequently, it’s strange to witness “Progressives” using their free speech rights to back policies that further enable dictatorial regimes to continue depriving their own citizenry of those same rights. Why are they unable to understand that the spread of truly progressive thinking has its future viability exclusively housed in the residence of representative governments in which leaders rule by the consent of the governed versus non-representative ghouls answerable to none. Everyone should be allowed to decide if they’re going to be a progressive or a conservative, and that choice is unattainable unless you are free.
It is for this reason I am bemused by progressives like Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, who propagate the cerebrally impoverished view that Iraq is like another Vietnam, which has become “a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire.” Firstly, as someone who protested against the Vietnam War (and stands by that position), I remind all that the Vietnamese community never attacked the US but that Islamic fundamentalists did. And though Saddam Hussein wasn’t linked to 9/11, the Clinton Justice Department, former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton have all acknowledged that he was linked to al-Qaeda through training, weapons development, and safe-haven agreements despite not having “an operational link” – a distinction that doesn’t disqualify his membership with the Islamic terrorist community which is the aggregate enemy. If still true is the maxim “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” then by default the friend of my enemy is my enemy – even when that friendship lacks warmth. Secondly, it’s obscene for Kennedy to characterize the Iraqi effort as a catastrophic failure when such a determination is contingent upon completion. This endeavor is very much a work in progress and encountered opposition does not a failure make. There isn’t, nor has there ever been, a military manual in the world that equates an enemy’s increased attacks with their winning a war; dominance on the ground alone determines who’s closest to victory, and by that measure, the Allies most definitively have the upper hand.
Alan Nathan, a combative centrist, is the nationally syndicated daily talk host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on The Radio America Network.