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      08-11-2008, 10:54 AM   #71
ganeil
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I don't always agree with him but Christopher Hitchens is always a great read.

From Iraq's Budget Surplus Scandal on Slate.com
...

I think we should be glad that the luridly sadistic and aggressive Saddam Hussein regime is no longer in power to be the beneficiary of the rise in oil prices and thus able to share its wealth with the terrorists, crooks, and demagogues on its secret payroll. I think we should also be glad that its private ownership of Iraq's armed forces, and its control over a party monopoly called the Baath, has been irrecoverably smashed. Iraq's resources are no longer at the disposal of an aggressive, parasitic oligarchy. Its retrained and re-equipped army is being deployed, not in wars of invasion against its neighbors and genocide against its inhabitants, but in cleanup campaigns against al-Qaida and the Mahdi Army. An improvement. A distinct improvement.

It is in no spirit of revenge that I remind you that, as little as a year ago, the whole of smart liberal opinion believed that the dissolution of Baathism and militarism had been a mistake, that Iraq itself was a bottomless pit of wasted dollars and pointless casualties, and that the only option was to withdraw as fast as possible and let the inevitable civil war burn itself out. To the left of that liberal consensus, people of the caliber and quality of Michael Moore were describing the nihilist "insurgents" as the moral equivalent of the Minutemen, and to the right of the same consensus, people like Pat Buchanan were hinting that we had been cheated into the whole enterprise by a certain minority whose collective name began with the letter J.

Had any of this sinister nonsense been heeded, it wouldn't even be Saddam's goons who were getting their hands on that fantastic wealth in such a strategic country. It would have been the gruesome militias who answer either to fanatical Wahhabism on one wing or to fanatical Shiism on another, and who are the instruments of tyrannical forces in neighboring countries. Hardly a prospect to be viewed with indifference. I still reel when I remember how many supposedly responsible people advocated surrendering Iraq without a fight.

...

So, yes, major combat operations appear to be over, and to that extent one can belatedly say, "Mission accomplished." If there is any Iraqi nostalgia for the old party and the old army, it is remarkably well-concealed. Iraq no longer plays deceptive games with weapons of mass destruction or plays host to international terrorist groups. It is no longer subject to sanctions that punish its people and enrich its rulers. Its religious and ethnic minorities—together a majority—are no longer treated like disposable trash. Its most bitter internal argument is about the timing of the next provincial and national elections. Surely it is those who opposed every step of this emancipation, rather than those who advocated it, who should be asked to explain and justify themselves.
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