The decisions made on Iraq over the next few months will take the measure of America's maturity and sense of responsibility. Because, whether we like it or not, our decisions -- and our decisions alone -- will determine whether the barely containable murderous pathologies of the Middle East will just be dumped into the face of humanity -- or whether rational efforts will be persisted at to contain and mitigate its civilization-threatening forces.
We have the most profound obligation to attempt to calculate the consequences of the impending American decision to wash our hands of the Iraq unpleasantness. In that regard, the words of President Kennedy come to mind: "There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."
If we, the most powerful force on the planet, in a fit of disappointment and anger at our bungling policies to date, decide to shrug off our responsibilities to the future -- we will soon receive, and deserve, the furious contempt of a terrified world. In fact, even those Americans who today can't wait to end our involvement in the "hopeless" war in Iraq will -- when the consequences of our irresponsibility becomes manifest -- join the chorus of outrage.
Expedient Washington politicians, take note: Your public is fickle. They may cheer your decision today to get out of Iraq but vote you out of office tomorrow when they don't like the results.
Much of the world (and a fair portion of the American public) may hate us today for our alleged arrogance. But they will spit out our name with contempt through time if we permit to be released the whirlwind that will follow our exit.
I have heard it said (by conservatives and Republicans, as well as others) that "if the Iraqis just want to murder each other, we should let them. We offered them freedom, and they didn't want it." If our decision on Iraq was only about Iraq, that argument might be persuasive.
But if, as it is hard to imagine otherwise, our departure from Iraq yields civil war, chaos, warlordism and terrorist safe havens -- it is very likely that Iran will lurch in to harvest their advantages, Turkey will send in its army to stop an independent Kurdistan, and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the other Sunni states will be sucked in to fend off Shi'a Iran's hegemony. In that nightmare maelstrom the 20 million barrels a day of oil shipped from the Persian Gulf -- and the world economy with it -- will be in daily risk of being cut off.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.