We are a proud people, with an unusual knack for solving problems: We have conquered frontiers of science and technology we never even dreamed we would confront. But with these conquests and our increasing societal acclimation to instant gratification, we have become spoiled. We demand perfection in an imperfect world, immediate resolution of problems that are necessarily long term, and, more to the point, veritable clairvoyance in our foreign policy dealings.
If not American society as a whole, the Democrats for sure demand clairvoyance from this president. They say that because we didn't find WMD stockpiles in Iraq, he lied in saying they were there. But since when has lying been defined as affirming something as true you believed at the time was true, but later discovered might not have been? Democrats have also condemned Bush for failing to anticipate, with certainty, all the consequences of removing Saddam, including the intramural sectarian strife -- which has been exaggerated by the antiwar media.
Never mind that no one could possibly have known for sure what would happen if we removed Saddam. We still can't be sure today. But President Bush, being in office at the time, had to make the hard decisions without the luxury of the hindsight lenses with which he is now being judged by his exacting, armchair detractors.
Even if he could have foreknown a measure of chaos would ensue in the wake of the vacuum created by deposing Saddam, he most likely would still have decided to attack Iraq, because he reasonably believed, based on the best available information, that Saddam posed a threat to our national security.
Must we remind ourselves that war is not an exact science? In the War on Terror, we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. For example, we shouldn't abandon President Bush's secondary goal of civilizing and pacifying the Middle East through democratizing Iraq, just because it is far from guaranteed. Does anyone have a better, more constructive, idea? You can be sure the Democrats don't.
Their lack of viable alternative plans, though, is not because they haven't thought about them. Rather, it's symptomatic of (and inherent in) their worldview, which paralyzes them from sober leadership and decisive action in the War on Terror. This is the primary reason they are powerless to exploit the president's current difficulties. I'll explore this phenomenon next time.
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