A Cautious Man
December 16, 2003
It Takes One for the Running But Two for the Road
There were two good speeches on foreign policy yesterday, by two of the Democratic candidates for President. In his speech, Wesley Clark noted:
Regardless of your views or my views about the war in Iraq, I am pleased that so many agree that the capture of a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein is good news. After all, this is a dictator who was responsible for starting two wars in the Gulf, whose regime brutalized the Iraqi people, who committed massive human rights abuses, and who used chemical weapons against the Kurds and against Iran.And as Howard Dean stated:
It has been a long time since there has been good news coming from Iraq. We were long overdue.
The capture of this dictator is good news not only for the Iraqi people - but for people around the world. And I wish to congratulate the American forces and the intelligence units involved in this mission.
But a day of good news in Iraq doesn't change the challenge we face there. The war is not over. There were insurgent attacks all this week against American forces. There was an attack yesterday and there was even an attack this morning.
The entire resistance in Iraq was not run by a pathetic ex-dictator hiding in a hole.
We still do not know how many outsiders have come to Iraq for suicide missions against American forces and the international community. We still not know how many insurgents are driven by a misguided nationalism. And we still do not know how many of the guerrilla fighters from Saddam's militias and intelligence service will fight harder or will give up now that he has been captured.
Our purpose of going to Iraq was not to capture Saddam Hussein. But in the chaotic aftermath of war, his capture was necessary to eliminate the fear that he inspired in so many Iraqis. But it is not sufficient. Iraq is still in danger of becoming a failed state.
The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at unbelievable cost. An administration prepared to work with others in true partnership might have been able, if it found no alternative to Saddam’s ouster, to then rebuild Iraq with far less cost and risk.Isn't there a way these two sensible kids could get together?
As our military commanders said, and the President acknowledged yesterday, the capture of Saddam does not end the difficulties from the aftermath of the administration’s war to oust him. There is the continuing challenge of securing Iraq, protecting the safety of our personnel, and helping that country get on the path to stability. There is the need to repair our alliances and regain global support for American goals.
Nor, as the president also seemed to acknowledge yesterday, does Saddam’s capture move us toward defeating enemies who pose an even greater danger: al Qaeda and its terrorist allies. And, nor, it seems, does Saturday’s capture address the urgent need to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the risk that terrorists will acquire them.
(Thanks to Political Aims and Oliver Willis for pointing to the speeches.)