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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Sunday, December 14, 2003


A victory for Iraq, not America

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, December 14, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Congratulations to President Bush, and admiring kudos to the American troops that brought Saddam in to account for his crimes against the people of Iraq and the collective interest of all humanity.

Saddam Hussein was a murderous, brutal thug. He tyrannized the people of Iraq for ruthless political primacy and plundered the riches of Iraq - which belong to the Iraqi people - for his private coffers. In so doing he left Iraq destitute, owing hundreds of billions of dollars in debt to foreign nations, and weakened by the sacrifice of its young blood in the pointless and self-defeating Iran-Iraq war. And he wrapped himself in the holy verses of the Qur'an when it suited his secular purposes, to promote his image in the Arab Islamic world.

I rejoiced when Iraq was freed from his rule (though I opposed the war) and I rejoice that he can now be brought to justice. This is a victory for Iraq.

But is it a victory for the American people? Afghanistan remains a haven for the Taliban, who organize attacks against our troops with impunity and remain a haven for terrorist training. Osama bin Laden remains at large and Al-Qaeda has adapted to our tactics. This momentous success in Iraq comes at a great cost to our national security.
It is clear that some Democrats ascribe great wisdom to President Bush on matters of foreign policy. Including candidates for the nomination such as Gephardt, Kerry, and Lieberman, who supported the war on Iraq, and Clark wose sole claim to qualification is that he can "match" Bush on foreign policy gravitas. As Vice President Al Gore said this week when he endorsed Howard Dean, “It was Osama bin Laden that attacked us… so don't tell me that because Howard Dean was the only major candidate who was right about that war, that that somehow calls his judgment into question on foreign policy.”
Capturing Saddam does not prove that Bush's policies have improved our national security. It does not bring justice to the victims of 9-11[1]. It does not increase the safety of our troops, who have to contend with disbanded Iraqi Army guerillas as well as foreign jihadis, whose main goal is to undermine our occupation by targeting our allies.
Saddam's role in the Iraqi guerilla resistance against our troops was likely limited:
But Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, which captured Saddam, said the ousted leader did not appear to be directly organizing resistance — noting no communication devices were found in his hiding place. "I believe he was there more for moral support," Odierno said. ... Troops found the ousted leader, armed with a pistol, hiding in an underground crawl space at the walled compound, Odierno said ... A Pentagon diagram showed the hiding place as a 6-foot-deep vertical tunnel, with a shorter tunnel branching out horizontally from one side. A pipe to the concrete surface at ground level provided air.

And the terrorist attacks upon innocent civilians - especially Shi'a - are part of Al-Qaeda v3.0, for whom the status of the "infidel" Saddam is of zero consequence (apart from some US-versus-Muslims propaganda purposes).
We must rejoice for Iraq, but our concern for America remains. And we must not cede the debate on foreign policy with this welcome news. Rather, we must demonstrate how it underscores our point - that we remain less safe - and remember that Saddam's capture changes nothing for our troops in Iraq who remain undermanned and at risk as they pursue their mission.

[1]There was no secret meeting in Prague between Atta and Iraqi officials.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.