Each day brings news of another American killed in Iraq. Additionally, we learn that the electricity is not yet working properly, the Shiites want an Iranian-style theocracy, and U.S. forces are weary and demoralized. An American general confirms that we are now fighting a guerrilla war, and the liberal press virtually choruses, "I told you so." A weapons expert in Britain commits suicide, and the buzz is that Tony Blair is in deep trouble. A visitor from Mars would certainly conclude that we were fighting a desperate rearguard action instead of beginning the process of rebuilding a shattered society.
Yes, Iraq's situation is not pretty at the moment. Violence and lawlessness plague the population. Saddam remains undead and therefore capable of instilling fear. There are fuel shortages (ironic in an oil-producing state, but bad government can accomplish miracles), electricity shortages and a certain amount of disorder. But consider what Iraq was four months ago!
Sixty mass graves have been discovered so far, and when dutiful Muslims put questions to imams, they frequently touch on the religious law for burying body parts. Part of the problem with restoring electricity, we now learn, is that Saddam used electricity, like everything else, to reward friends and punish enemies. And so the grid contains political distortions that will take time to iron out.
From the day Baghdad fell, the American and British media have fed us a nonstop diet of woe and defeat. There has been very little acknowledgment of what British and American forces have been able to achieve in such a short time. J. Paul Bremer, Iraq's administrator, told The Weekly Standard: "When I got to Baghdad eight weeks ago, the city was burning. It was on fire. There was no traffic in the city, other than coalition vehicles. And I slept with earplugs at night because of the gunfire. This is a remarkably better place in all three respects."
I hope I'll be forgiven an "I told you so" of my own. Five months ago, I was asked at a public forum for a prediction about how liberals would respond to the stunning victory in Iraq. I said they'd probably start complaining if the country wasn't a Madisonian democracy within three months. These are the same people who were ready to declare the war a "quagmire" when we hadn't defeated the enemy in two weeks (it took three).
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