Was Bush right about the war?

You know, it’s really too easy for me and others to cite all the things wrong with the Iraqi war. It’s too easy to point out that Republicans have recently begun to distance themselves from the administration even as the President’s popularity has plummeted. It’s too easy to acknowledge that the majority of the country now believes the invasion of Iraq was a very bad idea.

It’s easy because there are many things wrong with the war in Iraq, and all the negative things now being said about it should probably have been said long ago by far more people.

But. Yes, there’s a but.

Michael A. McFaul and Amr Hamzawy wrote a piece for the San Jose Mercury News on March 20, 2005 which correctly points out that something good has also come about as a result of the war. It has been reprinted on the Carnegie Endowment web site and an excerpt is quoted here:

Two years ago today, American troops and their coalition partners invaded Iraq. Saddam Hussein, President Bush argued, was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons to augment his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Before the menace grew any stronger, Saddam had to be toppled.

But once American forces had destroyed Saddam’s government — and no weapons of mass destruction were found — the goal changed. As with all American military interventions, the mission had to be redirected to the cause of building a new democracy; that’s what American presidents always promise. However, Bush and his administration outlined an even grander agenda, claiming that creating a new government in Iraq would lead to political liberalization throughout the Middle East.

Two years later, a series of positive political developments in the region do seem to suggest that Bush and his backers were right. Mahmoud Abbas became Palestinian president in a free and competitive election. In Iraq, 8 million voters defied threats from terrorists in order to elect an assembly that will now select a government and write a constitution. In Saudi Arabia, the ruling family has allowed for partially democratic elections to local councils for the first time since the 1960s.

In Lebanon, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Beirut to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak caved in to internal and international pressure and agreed to amend the constitution, allowing more than one candidate to run in the presidential election next fall.

The flurry of good news has led at least some administration backers to declare victory — and vindication. Some of their former critics also now concede that Bush may have had a point. In a recent Los Angeles Times opinion article, Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt — who has been a vociferous opponent of the Iraq war — was quoted as saying: “It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq.”

This excerpt is but a small part of an excellent study of the other side of the coin, a study which bears reading. Now, nearly seven months later, as Iraq nears the moment of truth on whether it will or will not have a new, widely accepted constitution in the immediate future, this study reminds us that it’s a good thing to look at any issue with both eyes.

Read the full article by clicking the headline.

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