There?s nothing easier than predicting the past.
For example, after the Patriots win the Super Bowl next week -- even if they again win on a late field goal -- a billion viewers will listen to experts explain exactly why they won, and why it was sure to happen all along. As author Lee Simonson put it, ?Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.?
In much the same vein, Sen. Ted Kennedy and a few of his Democratic counterparts have perfect hindsight about our war in Iraq. ?[Condoleezza] Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it?s been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire,? Kennedy said during the recent ?debate? over whether Rice should be confirmed as Secretary of State.
Well, first of all, there was no real debate in the Senate, just hours and hours of soliloquies. Senators including Kennedy, Barbara Boxer of California and Mark Dayton of Minnesota took the opportunity to attack Rice as unqualified, even, in Dayton?s case, as a ?liar.?
It?s good, though, to see Sen. Dayton back at work. Last fall he closed his Capitol Hill office because of threats he said were contained in a ?top-secret intelligence report? about national security.
?I would not bring my two sons to Capitol Hill between now and the elections,? Dayton told reporters. Luckily for those of us who trudge to work on the Hill every day, his prediction of impending disaster didn?t pan out. Other senators, by the way, stayed on the job.
Now let?s return to Sen. Kennedy and his ?quagmire? comment. He?s on record: Iraq is a failure. That?s not completely wrong. After all, more than 1,300 Americans have been killed there. There?s no way to compensate those families for their loss. We?ve failed to bring every man back alive.
However, that?s not the proper measure of a war. If it was, we?d never deploy anyone anywhere. In fact, we wouldn?t have a military at all, since even when we?re not actively fighting, we lose servicemen in training accidents.
Perhaps the best definition of the American rationale for war came from President Harry Truman. ?Let us not forget that we are fighting for peace and for the welfare of mankind,? he announced in July 1945. ?We are not fighting for conquest. There is not one piece of territory or one thing of a monetary nature that we want out of this war. We want peace and prosperity for the world as a whole.?
That?s exactly why we?re fighting in Iraq today -- not to conquer land but to spread freedom and make the entire planet safer. Our enemies understand that, even if some of our senators don?t.