The massacres and mutilations in Fallujah and the coordinated Shiite rebellion in other Iraqi cities should strengthen, rather than weaken American resolve to stay the course in Iraq.
For those opposing the war at home and abroad, these tragic events, along with the 9-11 investigative panel's impending report that the attacks were preventable, should be sweet music. But the antiwar types are incorrigibly tone-deaf.
Oh, yes, the virtuosos of hindsight can sit around now with 20-20 omniscience and tell us we could have prevented the 9-11 attacks. In theory, anything is preventable. But short of helping us to fill holes in our intelligence gathering and sharing, the conclusion that we could have prevented the attacks is largely useless.
If these people want to be useful, they should employ the benefit of hindsight to assist us on important matters, not moot, academic questions like whether we could have prevented the attacks.
What recent history in our dealings (and refusal to deal) with terrorists tells us is that if we had responded swiftly and decisively to previous terrorist attacks, perhaps we would have deterred future attacks, or at least not invited them through our weakness and lack of resolve.
Instead of demanding retrospective perfection from President Bush or our emasculated intelligence services prior to 9-11, we should look at Mogadishu as an example of how not to respond to terrorist attacks.
The lessons we should apply in response to Fallujah and the radical Shiite uprisings are that:
-- Terrorists, like other thugs, only understand firm resolve and the use of force; we mustn't cut and run at the first sign of serious opposition. The way to deal with insurgencies is through swift and sure counterviolence.
-- The establishment of democracy and ordered liberty doesn't happen overnight, especially when antidemocratic forces are affirmatively trying to prevent democracy from gaining a foothold in the formerly terror-friendly Iraq;
-- War is almost never casualty-free;
-- It will take a while to fully train self-sufficient Iraqi security forces;
-- The Shiite uprisings were fueled in part by mob-energy from the Fallujah massacres, which further justifies a retaliatory response to those massacres;
-- Handwringing by liberals serves the cause of weakening America's resolve. It is this naysaying, not our justifiable attack against Iraq, that sets back our cause in the War on Terror.
Regardless, the antiwar crowd will cite the intensified violence as proof that we should never have invaded Iraq. (The insurgents are well aware of the importance of American resolve and, like the Communists before them, will play our doves like idiotic fiddles.) And John Kerry's gladiators will continue to beat this antiwar drum through the November elections.
In addition to rehashing complaints about WMD exaggeration, they'll continue to harp on the supposed absence of a connection between Saddam and Osama. And they'll keep saying that our invasion of Iraq set back our war on terror by diverting critical resources from the objective of capturing Osama and alienating the Arab street.
Once again, they'll be off base. The issue isn't simply whether there was a direct connection between Saddam and Osama. The more relevant question is whether military action against Iraq furthered our cause in the War on Terror.
Even if we don't have taped transcripts evidencing collusion between Saddam and Osama, we know beyond doubt that Iraq was a terrorist-sponsoring state and a safe-haven for Islamo-fascists.
Indeed, the terrorists' desperate and persistent efforts to thwart Iraq's transition to democratic self-rule vindicate the Bush Administration's conclusion that Iraq was and remains a pivotal target in the war. The violence fomented by Iraqi Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr, and his brazen overtures to Hezbollah and Hamas, support President Bush's broader view that there is worldwide solidarity among international terrorists.
Moreover, it is cynical sophistry to argue that we diverted resources from Al Qaeda by attacking Iraq. We didn't pursue Iraq until we had disposed of the Taliban and destroyed the Al Qaeda training camps. We continued (and continue) to pursue Osama during and after attacking Iraq. And President Bush's resolve in the war and diplomacy with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has encouraged Pakistan to cooperate with us against Al Qaeda.
As for the notion that attacking Iraq inflamed the Arab world and spawned more terrorists, we need only remember that Osama attacked us without provocation to the spontaneous cheering of the "Arab street."
You can't escape evil by turning away from it or appeasing it. Recent events show this will be a protracted, difficult and costly war that demands firm American commitment and resolve. President Bush is on the right path.