But there is another question, as well. Suppose it turns out that Bush acted on the basis of bad intelligence. We can judge a decisionmaker only on the basis of what was known at the time. A good president will weigh the consequences of being wrong in both directions. If we did not act, and Saddam was on the verge of getting nuclear weapons that he in turn shared with terrorists, hundreds of thousands might have died. If we did act, and it turned out that Saddam was less threatening to other nations than suspected, then what?
We're seeing what. A vicious dictator who supported terrorism in the region and tortured and starved his own people on a truly gruesome scale has been deposed. Did massive numbers of innocent Iraqis die? No. In fact, as Walter Russell Mead has pointed out, continuing the sanctions for one more year would have killed more Iraqi civilians than the war did.
According to UNICEF, Saddam's response to sanctions was to permit 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of five to die each month (60,000 per year) so that he could purchase military equipment and palaces. The number of Iraqi civilian deaths in the recent conflict was estimated at 3,240 by The Associated Press.
Further, it could well be argued that we have done the Iraqi people a huge service. We have liberated them and are now showering them with new schools, hospitals, electrical grids and fresh drinking water. There are plenty of countries around the world that would welcome a U.S. invasion.
It's true that we have reasons beyond humanitarianism for doing this. But it remains a mystery that the Democrats cannot see the advantages to us. We are creating in Iraq an open, market-oriented, pro-Western (we hope) country in the heart of darkness that is the modern Middle East. This is a giant step toward draining the swamp that generates homicidal jihadis. It demonstrates strategic thinking on Bush's part.
But the Democrats prefer endless talk, passivity and truckling to "our allies."