I recognize that Democrats and the media have successfully created the perception that Iraq has been a disaster. But despite the many problems there, I reject that conclusion.
President Bush was not only justified in going to war against Iraq; he had a duty to do so. All the world's intelligence services, not just our own, were convinced Saddam was developing WMD. He repeatedly violated U.N. resolutions, defied weapons inspectors and filed a phony 12,000-page WMD compliance report, thereby deliberately failing to meet his burden of proving he had destroyed the WMDs we know he once had -- and used. He shot at our planes in no-fly zones, harbored terrorists and subsidized the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He had connections with Al Qaeda (I didn't say with 9-11) and had an abiding hatred for America, on which he had declared war, lest we forget.
As for the prosecution of the first phase of the war, it was virtually flawless, as wars go. We removed Saddam in short order, with a minimum of casualties, and with precision-smart bombs designed to minimize civilian casualties and collateral destruction.
We then began to rebuild the infrastructure and help Iraq transition to self-rule. All kinds of positive things have occurred there every day from feeding the people to improvements in education -- things you rarely read about in the mainstream media. We have helped democratize a brutal, tyrannical regime in the Middle East. Is that not headline-worthy? Is that not something a president should be able to boast about in his re-election bid?
Not so fast, you say. We are in a quagmire now. We didn't anticipate the second phase of the war. "President Bush didn't," says John Kerry, "have a plan to win the peace" -- whatever that means.
Even President Bush, say his critics, is now admitting he made serious mistakes in failing to anticipate the resistance we would face after the first phase of the war. But let's look at what he actually said.
He told Time magazine, "I was convinced you were trying to force me to say it was a mistake to go into Iraq, which I wasn't going to do. . Had we had to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success -- being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day. I couldn't have sat down and said to you, 'By the way, we're going to be so victorious so quickly that we'll end up having to fight another third of the Baathists over the next year in order to bring liberty to the country.'"