‘Mis­son ac­com­plished’: Bold words ring true to­day

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

We are pre­par­ing to vamoose Camp Vic­tory just out­side of Bagh­dad. There were once 505 bases for Amer­i­can troops sprin­kled around Iraq at the height of our in­volve­ment, from whence an Amer­i­can army went out to pacify the blood­thirsty hordes. Now we are down to some 40 bases, and shortly there will be none at all. Per­haps one or two head­quar­ters will re­main for a skele­ton force of Amer­i­cans train­ing Iraqi po­lice or mil­i­tary.

Camp Vic­tory was the big­gest of our bases. It was open to 46,000 troops at the height of op­er­a­tions. It had swim­ming pools and palaces and other im­prob­a­ble ameni­ties for a mil­i­tary base thanks to its former in­hab­i­tant, Sad­dam Hus­sein.

His pres­ence there is shock­ingly di­min­ished. Yet there re­mains a gaudy throne, a gift from the de­ceased Pales­tinian leader Yasser Arafat. Ac­tu­ally Sad­dam is de­ceased too, but there re­mains this ap­palling throne, with the tyrant’s po­made stain­ing its head­rest. I won­der how many peo­ple he con­demned to death from that throne. And more, I won­der how many con­demned vic­tims he watched die a grisly death from that throne. That is the kind of sport he en­joyed.

Amer­ica has taken down a lot of tyrants in the past cen­tury or so of our emer­gence as a world power, but Sad­dam is about as evil and cruel as any. In fact, I would ven­ture that there is an ab­so­lute mea­sure­ment with re­gard to tyrants, be­yond which one can- not go. One can be a rel­a­tively benev­o­lent tyrant, leav­ing only a few breaches of the law. Or — more likely — one can be a rather hideous tyrant. Panama’s Nor­iega comes to mind and Italy’s Mus­solini. But when a tyrant breaks into the big time, killing and butcher­ing hundreds, thou­sands, even mil­lions, that is about as evil as it gets. I would put Hitler, Tojo and Sad­dam in that league. I would also put Stalin, Cas­tro, Pol Pot and dozens of less-fa­mous brutes in that cat­e­gory, but alas, Amer­ica was not re­spon­si­ble for their deaths. Though, in the case of Cas­tro, there is still time.

We are told that there is now some sort of de­bate go­ing on be­tween Sec­re­tary of De­fense Leon E. Panetta and cer­tain se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cials about how many troops, if any, should stay on in Iraq. Some mil­i­tary lead­ers say as many as 18,000 should stay in case hos­til­i­ties break out anew. Mr. Panetta is for 3,000 to 4,000 to serve as train­ers on the ground. That is a de­bate for the ex­perts. I only know that our pol­icy in Iraq came out rather well con­sid­er­ing how chaotic the place was four years ago and how ea­ger cer­tain Democrats were to turn Iraq into an­other Viet­nam.

One of the main fig­ures in screw­ing up Viet­nam was Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy, and he was at it again in Iraq.

That was ap­par­ent in Jan­uary 2007 when he made a pre-emp­tive strike against Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s “surge” by in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to re­quire con­gres­sional ap­proval be­fore more troops could be sent. A lonely Mr. Bush went ahead with his surge, which Kennedy, then a se­nior mem­ber of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, called “an im­mense new mis­take.” Of course, un­der Gen. David H. Pe­traeus, the surge was a suc­cess and this war — un­like Viet­nam — is end­ing in suc­cess.

Still, other Democrats tried their best to screw it up. There was Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid in April 2007 fa­mously pro­nounc­ing the war “lost,” and then-Rep. David Obey call­ing for a po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic com­pro­mise. Then, as the surge was work­ing and bring­ing peace to the coun­try, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Fe­bru­ary 2008 told Wolf Bl­itzer on CNN, “There haven’t been gains, Wolf. . . . This is a fail­ure. This is a fail­ure.” Fi­nally some Democrats could see that the Bush pol­icy was work­ing in Iraq. Can­di­date Barack Obama thought he would play it safe on July 13, 2008, when he qui­etly ex­punged his web­site of “The surge is not work­ing,” and re­placed it with a no­tice of the “im­proved se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion” of the coun­try, but still no salute for Mr. Bush or Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney or Gen. Pe­traeus. Well, I salute them, and our mag­nif­i­cent mil­i­tary that can sing out “mis­sion ac­com­plished.”

R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor and an ad­junct scholar at the Hud­son In­sti­tute. He is author of “Af­ter the Han­gover: The Con­ser­va­tives’ Road to Re­cov­ery” (Thomas Nel­son, 2010).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.