Sean Hannity had
Robert Reich as a guest on his radio program last week. Reich came
across as a much more sensible and serious man than most Leftists.
He correctly noted that America needs a prospective national security policy
and that recriminations for past neglect, at some point, becomes petty and
Then Reich began to ask why President Bush chose Iraq rather than North Korea
or Iran. The implication was that President Bush did not have a good
reason for choosing Iraq, and that his policy was guided more by politics
than national security concerns. Reich is wrong, and he is wrong at several
Iraq occupies a pivotal geographical position in the Near East. Syria,
Saudi Arabia and Iran - each an important state in our war on terrorism -
share long borders with Iraq. American forces now are able to influence events
in each of those nations, while at the same time having removed one of the
three identified nations in the “Axis of Evil.”
This is particularly important because - as Mr. Reich surely recalls - the
first nation we liberated was not Iraq, but Afghanistan. This squeezes the
mullahs of Iran, who must cope with American forces on their northeast and
southwest borders, as well as a powerful insurgent movement.
Which is one of the reasons why most pundits are not recommending direct
military action against Iran. Unlike Hussein or Jong Il, who both have
absolute and brutal autocracies, the mullahs of Iran rely heavily upon moral
authority for their power.
Attacking Iran directly would not be considered a war of national liberation
and might well galvanize support behind the mullahs. Surrounding Iran,
however, tells the Iranian people that help is very, very close.
A popular revolution against the mullahs would be the best possible outcome
for America. It would be another telling blow to the perverse notion
that Islamic peoples love sadistic, anti-American authoritarian rulers.
North Korea is a danger, but China, Russia, Japan and the Republic of Korea
ought to take some of the heat for stopping the nuclear weapons program development
in that Orwellian nightmare nation. They are the nations most likely
to be blackmailed - indeed, they are already being blackmailed to some extent.
Moreover, our actions in North Korea need to be secret, precise and focused.
Bill Clinton liked to throw cruise missiles from a safe distance as his way
of coping with terrorism (and pumping up his poll numbers). Cruise
missiles involve no danger of losing American lives. Collateral damage can
be largely minimized with these and other very smart ordnance.
America has an interest in North Korea not acquiring for export or use nuclear
weapons. We do not need to liberate the wretched people of North Korea to
achieve that limited national objective. As part of a broad coalition
of the willing, the liberation of North Korea would be a wonderful thing,
but South Korea has the economic, technological and demographic strength
to liberate North Korea by itself. If Koreans on the southern half
of the Korean peninsula are not willing to fight for that noble goal, then
why should we?
On this primary level of national security, Iraq made sense. Iraq also
made sense - and this may sound odd - because of the international reaction
to our actions. France, Germany and other nations should have joined
us in Iraq. Our NATO “allies” had gone on record as condemning Hussein, something
that could not be said of Iran or North Korea. The United Nations was also
on record as finding Hussein in violation of important promises.
It was the very failure of nerve or decency among these nations that President
Bush needed to show Americans and the world before proceeding farther in
our war on terrorism. If our “allies” would not support removing Saddam Hussein,
then when would they support us? Have these “allies” ever supported us, except
in their own selfish interest?
The demonstration of will that we demonstrated in Iraq also made this war
important. We had spent a decade of doing nothing about Iraq, and the rest
of the world could seriously question whether we had the resolve to end Hussein.
Finally, Iraq was right (and Reich was wrong) for a reason that probably
subconsciously troubles Leftists like Reich: we could win easily. The Left
seems to feel that when the good guys carry big sticks that it is “unfair”
to use these sticks against the bad guys. It is another variation of
the Leftist obsession with “fairness.”
A student of history will find some curious similarities between our current
war and the Second World War. The first victories - the first stands
against the Axis - were made by the British at strategic points in space
and time. Dunkirk, after all, was a retreat. The Battle of Britain was a
Japan in 1940 was a very serious threat to world peace, but Churchill understood
that if Britain went to war with Japan in 1940, then Britain would be driven
out of the war. So he won the battles that had to be won first.
Like North Korea today, Japan was a threat in 1939 and 1940 that had to be
dealt with later.
Churchill also understood the vital geographical role of the Mediterranean
and Middle East. If the Axis reached Suez and Gibraltar, then it would
be almost impossible to ever remove them from power. So he understood
very controversial demonstrations of will.
The Royal Navy sunk much of the French Fleet, even though Vichy France was
at peace with Britain, because if that fleet was ever used against the Royal
Navy, then Britain could be forced to make peace. Churchill also understood
the importance of making a statement to the world: we will never surrender.
The Axis powers in 1940 had three main powers, just as President Bush has
identified three powers. In 1940, as today, two of the three shared
common borders, and the other was thousands of miles away in the Far East.
Should Churchill, seeing Hitler as “the real problem” have sent Royal marines
and spitfires in a suicide attack against the coast of Europe?
What he did instead was begin to win. In November 1940, he sunk the
Italian fleet at Taranto, granting the first decisive military defeat for
the Axis powers. The next month, bold attacks by British Imperial forces
captured a huge Italian army in North Africa, the second decisive military
defeat of the Axis.
Afghanistan and Iraq were victories over evil. President Bush, like Prime
Minister Churchill, wants the good guys to win. America is involved
in a global war today, like Britain was sixty-three years ago. If we
can pick fights against evil which we will win and which will chill the hearts
of other tyrants, then we should. What, Mr. Reich, is so complicated
Bruce Walker's articles can be found at the Conservative Truth.