But our self-interest does not detract from the truth that what we are doing in Iraq is morally different from what we did after World War II. In Iraq, we are engaged in rescue rather than the undoing of our own destruction. We've undertaken the maddening task of cleaning up someone else's mess.
As the extent of the horror inflicted by the Baathist regime is documented day by day, opponents of the war are increasingly shamed. With every mass grave discovered, those who marched with such moral assurance just two months ago under the banner of human rights and social justice must make an accounting. In the name of peace, they supported the legitimacy and defended the inviolability of a regime that made relentless war on every value the left pretends to uphold:
Torturer, murderer, plunderer, despoiler. ``We've gotten rid of him,'' said presidential candidate Howard Dean, prewar darling of the Democratic left. ``I suppose that's a good thing.''
It was a very good thing. A noble thing. And rebuilding the place that Saddam destroyed is an even nobler thing. It is fine to carp about our initial failures at reconstruction; it is well to remember, however, the nobility of the entire enterprise.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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