But it is not so obvious. It is overwhelmingly likely that even if we had found WMD in Iraq, The New York Times, Michael Moore and nearly all college professors would have still opposed the invasion. After all, they would have argued, it was still a pre-emptive war and therefore wrong by definition; and besides, Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.
Of course, the critics look right because we hardly seem to be winning the war in Iraq. But even here the critics are too smug. We have not won the war in Iraq because of something completely unforeseeable: widespread massacres of Iraqi civilians by other Iraqis and Muslims. We have never seen mass murder of fellow citizens in order to remove an outside occupier. No Japanese blew up Japanese temples in order to rid Japan of the American occupier. No Germans mass murdered German schoolchildren and teachers to rid Germany of the American, British, French and Soviet occupiers.
The level of cruelty and evil exhibited by those America is fighting in Iraq is new. Had Iraq followed any precedent in all the annals of resistance to occupation, America would likely have been victorious in Iraq. It may just be impossible, if one is morally bound not to kill large numbers of civilians, to fight those who target their own civilians and hide among them. But George W. Bush had no way to foresee such systematic cruelty.
With the election of a Democratic Congress and the reversion to the visionless "realists" of George W. Bush's father's administration, the critics are more certain than ever of their moral rectitude. But unless they disagree with Professor Ferguson's assertion that a pre-emptive war in 1938 would have been the most moral thing the Western democracies could have done, they ought to show a little humility. Based on what was known at the time, George W. Bush made a moral choice. And he would have won were it not for something new in the annals of human depravity.