Tragic to be sure. We will someday wish we had those 4,000 heroes to help guide this country through future crises.
(Instead we're left with mindless idiots who fret over "climate change" - what we once referred to as the weather - and who don't know Afghanistan from Affluenza. But that's for another post.)
Here's the bottom line on that which will go down in the history books:
After 9/11 President Bush vowed to hunt down every terrorist on Earth and kill him. To do that, he could have dispatched American forces to every corner of that Earth to track down the bastards who were plotting to kill our children and grandchildren. (And he did.)
Or he could have had the good fortune to have had the enemy come to him. To us. In Iraq. In the streets of Fallujah. Where we could kill them all.
Came they did. By the thousands. Tens of thousands. And we killed them. We killed them by the tens of thousands. And President Bush broke the back of the al Qaeda terrorist threat, perhaps forever. (That chapter of the history book remains unwritten. Consider though: Obama may help write it, God forbid.)
I've always found it bewildering that critics of Iraq War strategy - including every Democrat in America and the mainstream press - argue that we should have extracted our troops from those bloody and dangerous streets of Baghdad and sent them somewhere else - to Afghanistan, say - where it was less dangerous.
I'm reminded of this quote* from a leading Democrat in Congress on our presence in Iraq:
“Let’s redeploy them immediately to another country in the Middle East. Let’s get out of Iraq and go to another country.Let's send our fighting forces where the enemy's fighting forces ain't. What?
Kuwait’s one that will take us. Qatar, we already have bases in Qatar. So Bahrain. All those countries are willing to take the United States. Now, Saudi Arabia won’t because they wanted us out of there in the first place. So—and we don’t have to be right there. We can go to Okinawa."
Okinawa? I'm also reminded of another quote, uttered by Confederate General James Longstreet to Robert E. Lee, as they were witnessing the buildup of powerful enemy forces in their front at Fredericksburg:
"General, if you put every man on the other side of the Potomac on that field to approach me over the same line, and give me of plenty of ammunition, I will kill them all before they reach my line."
That was President Bush's approach to Iraq. In his famous challenge to Osama bin Ladin: "Bring it on." Give me enough ammunition and I will kill them all on this field of battle.
The rest is history. Iraq is won.
Charles Krauthammer this morning ("History Will Judge") attempts to assess that which is going to be written in future history books about President Bush and his legacy:
In the hour I spent with the president (devoted mostly to foreign policy), that equanimity was everywhere in evidence -- not the resignation of a man in the twilight of his presidency but a sense of calm and confidence in eventual historical vindication.A final quote. From the man who affected that "most dramatic change in the fortunes of an American war" in the summer of 1864 to which Krauthammer refers - Ulysses Grant, in a lesson he passed on to future presidents of the United States, and to those who he - or she - sends into battle with America's ever-present foes:
It is precisely that quality that allowed him to order the surge in Iraq in the face of intense opposition from the political establishment (of both parties), the foreign policy establishment (led by the feckless Iraq Study Group), the military establishment ... and public opinion itself. The surge then effected the most dramatic change in the fortunes of an American war since the summer of 1864.
That kind of resolve requires internal fortitude. Some have argued that too much reliance on this internal compass is what got us into Iraq in the first place. But Bush was hardly alone in that decision. He had a majority of public opinion, the commentariat and Congress with him. In addition, history has not yet rendered its verdict on the Iraq war. We can say that it turned out to be longer and more costly than expected, surely. But the question remains as to whether the now-likely outcome -- transforming a virulently aggressive enemy state in the heart of the Middle East into a strategic ally in the war on terror -- was worth it. I suspect the ultimate answer will be far more favorable than it is today.
... Bush is much like Truman, who ... ultimately engaged in a war (Korea) -- also absent an attack on the United States -- that proved highly unpopular.
So unpopular that Truman left office disparaged and highly out of favor. History has revised that verdict. I have little doubt that Bush will be the subject of a similar reconsideration.
"Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike at him as hard as you can and as often as you can, and keep moving on."
We've heard much in recent days about "The Bush Doctrine." If anything, it's this: Okinawa was a refuge for cowards. We'll fight the enemy on the field of battle of our choosing.
Iraq was that field of battle. Al Qaeda is all but destroyed. So let it be written.
* Actually, it's a combination of two quotes from "Meet The Press" from Congressman John Murtha.