Now, when you read this, you might come away thinking, "Hey, ol' Man of the West doesn't support the war in Iraq/Afghanistan/on terror."
Let me explain, briefly, very briefly, my position on these things. I don't believe George Bush lied to get us into war in Iraq. I am pretty sure that he was genuinely convinced that Saddam had WMDs and was prepared to use or distribute them. This was a view widely held at the time, even among Democrats, and as far as I can tell, just about every intelligence service in the world concurred.
We found some WMDs in Iraq. They were mostly old and scattered, but that doesn't mean they were harmless. I don't think they were the weapons Bush was thinking about. We haven't found those and it looks like they might not have existed.
Were we justified in going into Iraq? To the best of my recollection, what I said at the time was, more or less, that I didn't have much of a problem with going into the place and ripping it apart to get the WMDs out of there. After all, Saddam had been uttering threats and hints and various dark mutterings and in my opinion, there was every reason in the world that he might make common cause with Al Qaeda to get some of those WMDs into the United States. I just wanted two things:
1) I wanted the entity whose job it is to declare war (or to refrain from it) to be the entity making the decision. Under our Constitution, Congress has the authority to declare war. It is not supposed to declare "authorizations" or other such weasel-***ed idiocies. It's supposed to delare war. Or not.
Why would I care so much about this? Aside from the constitutionality of it, it's because Congress is most likely to distill the will of the people on the subject. If you can get Congress to declare war, it's a pretty safe bet that the country is behind you and will remain behind you. If you can't--well, you may find that the country's will to wage war wanes. And if that happens, you may find that you're worse off than ever.
2) I had a hard time with the Bushian idea that we would successfully make Iraq into a functioning, Western-style representative government. This is because our own Founding Fathers said fairly explicitly that the style of government they had set up just wouldn't work without a more-or-less Christianized population--and Iraq wasn't, and isn't, even close to being a Christianized population. History strongly indicates that Islam and totalitarianism go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Oh, for a while I had hopes. But they have vanished. I think the best we could ever have hoped for was to have a regime in place that was at least thoroughly hostile to Islamic terrorism. I'm about eighty percent convinced that had we been willing to settle for that at the outset, we would have been out of there a couple of years ago. Had it been me making the decisions, brutal as it sounds, once we had gone in, I would have torn the country up from end to end looking for WMDs, wrecking infrastructure, making the rubble bounce, and then installed a leadership that understood its own survival was contingent on being hostile to Islamic terror.
Maybe that's why I'd never get elected.
I am thoroughly convinced that Islam as a religion breeds totalitarianism and terror. Not that all Muslims are terrorists or even violent. But the reality of Islam is that it really does say, in the Qu'ran and the Hadiths, that it really is supposed to be spread at the point of a sword. Some Muslims try to spiritualize the commands to jihad, to make them out as a spiritual struggle, but one good look at the life of Muhammad is enough to convince me, and apparently a lot of other Muslims, that those commands were never meant to be spiritualized.
How the dickens do you deal with that? Long-term answer: deprive them of money. Islam mostly kept to itself for some hundreds of years. I am convinced that that is because it takes money to wage war, and for some hundreds of years, right up 'til the discovery of oil in the Middle East, Islam had no money, nor any hope of making any.
So, in a very real sense, becoming energy independent is the way to win the war on terror. But it's going to take a while. In the meantime, we've got--in my opinion--to keep Islamic terrorists off-balance, leaderless, and on the run.
So there it is, in a nutshell: my opinion on the war in terror, Iraq in particular. Turns out it was way longer than the material I'm going to quote. But now, when you read Diana West's comments, you'll know where I stand and why I'm quoting them:
...an alliance of Obama-niks and Bush-ites who, together, are laying the groundwork for nation-building in Afghanistan -- nation-building in Iraq having worked out so well (insert acid shot of sarcasm here). Only they are not going to call it "nation-building."
Worse, they are forging ahead without heeding the remedial lesson of Iraq: No matter how many American dollars spent, no matter how many American lives lost, it's not possible to transform an Islamic republic that enshrines Islamic law (Sharia) into an ally against Islamic jihad, even if Islamic jihad is euphemized as "extremism," "man-caused disasters" or "overseas contingency operations." That's because Islamic jihad is ultimately waged to extend Sharia. See the disconnect? Good. That's more than our experts can do, which is why it now looks as if we're going to give this flawed strategy another multi-trillion dollar try in Afghanistan.