Let it be known first off that I am, for all intents and purposes a supporter of the war in Iraq. I supported the war in the beginning (with some reservations about timing), and my support really has not wavered. That being said, I recognize that a lot of mistakes have been made in Iraq, and a lot of things went down in a way they shouldn't have. Regardless, it is clear to me that we were justified in removing Saddam, and while he was not directly involved in 9/11, he was a long-term threat that needed to be dealt with. The debate over this war, and the justifications will rage on for years to come. There is plenty of room for debate on the war, pro or con, but I submit that in order to have an honest and serious debate of this war (and the larger War on Terror), reasonable people must recognize these seven facts to be undisputed:
1. America was hit with an unprovoked attack on 9/11, by radical Islamists who want to destroy us. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed. America did NOTHING to deserve this attack.
2. America has an obligation to confront all clear terrorist threats. This does not always mean open war, but if military force is required, we must be ready.
3. Saddam Hussein was a brutal, murderous dictator, who committed genocidal acts against his own people. He invaded his neighbors, and at one point had WMDs. He used them against his own people, and had clear designs to use them against us at one point.
4. Saddam's removal is a good thing for the free world, and for the Iraqi people.
This is a value judgment, but one I think all of us should agree on.
5. The war was not illegal, as it was backed by U.N resolution, and the Iraq War Resolution in Congress.
6. Our troops, all of them, are heroes, who are fighting for a noble cause.
Again, another value judgment, but also one I think reasonable people can agree upon.
7. Criticism of the war is not treason, and support for the war is not apology for war crimes. Iraq is not a war crime.
These are things the all of us ought to agree upon, regardless of ideology, if we are really serious about fighting terror. Just so you know, I'm not the biggest fan of this Administration, and one could say that I support the war in spite of Bush. Many on the Left in this country really can't seem to move beyond Bush, and many on the right can't seem to suffer any criticism of him. This war on terror isn't about Bush. This war doesn't end when his term is up. We're in this for the long haul.
Considering Iraq, it's my view that a premature withdrawal is bad for everybody. I respect those who sincerely believe the contrary, but I fail to see how pulling out now helps. Perhaps gradual drawdowns can happen in the future, but many people are calling for immediate pullouts or artificial timetables. This is a flawed approach. Especially when this is real progress being made.
Before you accuse me of carrying the water for the GOP, I recognize that there are real problems. Civil war may very well come. However, real work has been done by Allied and Iraqi troops. It seems that many in the press can't resist the "if it bleeds, it leads" impulse, and only seem to focus on the negative. Some take this further, imposing their own antiwar biases on their reporting. This really does happen. Of course, the Bush-friendly press seems to only focus on the favorable coverage, and is less inclined to report the negative. Often these stories are less focused on Iraq, than trying to make Democrats look like the enemy. Their coverage is tainted with pro-war (and pro-Bush) bias, and is just as bad.
The fact is, a lot of great journalists of all stripes are doing good reporting in Iraq, that's balanced. This needs to increase.
The point of all this that all of us need to deal in sense when dealing with these issues. I've had enough of both the "Liberals are traitors" mantras, and the "Bush lied, millions died" mantras. Enough of this talk of impeachment. Enough of this talk about prosecuting journalists. This has been said to death but it bears repeating: This war is the central front on the war on terror. It doesn't matter how we got there, we're here now, and we must focus on the here and now.
Bush and the Republicans will take a hit of the prosecution of the war, and the numerous other GOP screw-ups. Most of this the GOP brought on themselves, but no political outcome should lead to a pullout of troops too early. Bush has said that he's leaving the troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. I support him on that. Not for his sake, but for the sake of the mission, and our brave troops fighting it.