Reasons for War
Neal B. Freeman's "NR Goes to War" (TAS, June 2006) basically tells National Review "I told you so" that the invasion of Iraq was wrong. Mr. Freeman stakes his case entirely on the fact that massive inventories of WMD were not found in Iraq. All other reasons given, before the invasion, to justify the invasion, are dismissed as irrelevant based on the bald assertion that only Iraqi WMD "permitted" the President to take the U.S. to war. That could be true, but it is also true that President Bush articulated several other reasons for war before invading and it is entirely possible that we would have gone to war if, mysteriously, Bush had never also mentioned WMD. More importantly, whether WMD "permitted" the war or not, there remains the question of whether the war was, in fact, still justified.
On this issue Mr. Freeman does not claim that he told NR so. but does claim that Robert Novak did. Freeman cites Novak as has having forecast "(1) that the case for WMD had not been made; (2) that the occupation of Iraq might not be a 'cakewalk'...; (3) that democratic values might not easily take root in the sands of the Middle East; and (4) that global terrorism might not be deterred by the invasion of the U.S. military."
Only the fourth of these issues is critical to the case for war, and that issue has not been made despite Mr. Freeman's assumption to the contrary. Regarding the first issue, WMD are not the essential justification of pre-emptive war that Mr. Freeman believes they are. If they were, then the invasion of Afghanistan (which he suggests he always supported) would not have been justified, but invasions of Russia, China, France, and the U.K. would be. On the second and third issues, it merely need be observed that all war is difficult and when war is justified it is justified despite its difficulties.
But the fourth issue is crucial, because it suggests that even if the U.S. does prevail in I raq, and a democratic government is stabilized there, that global terrorism might not be deterred. Mr. Freeman should concede that so far global terrorism has at least been deterred within the U.S. That is no mean feat. Who among us, on September 12, 2001, was casual about booking flight on a commercial airline? Who was confident that no terrorist attack within the U.S. would succeed over the next four plus years? That there have been no such successful attacks does not prove that the invasion of Iraq deterred them, but it most obviously also does not prove that it did not.
History does not assure us that democracy will survive barbarian invasions. If anything, history suggests that democracy will yield to barbarians within a few centuries. If democracy is to survive, we will have to fight some wars to defend it. Iraq may not be the right war, in the right place, at the right time. But then again, it may be. Time has yet to tell us.
Mr. Freeman has given the term "elitist" a new lowest common denominator. In an apparent attempt at buttressing Bill Buckley's sadly mistaken opinion regarding the Iraq war, he applies common liberal myopia to the history depicting why it was that we went there initially. Apparently, he was absent when the President gave his initial speech delineating many reasons for the action. Apparently h e was also absent during the many public statements describing the numerous reasons for our effort. Apparently, he and Mr. Buckley lack the ability to discern the truly visionary concept of Mideast democracy and its possibilities for the future. Apparently, both he and Mr. Buckley would have been quite satisfied with the status quo in the area with Saddam in charge. The lessons of 9/11 and prior have fallen on many deaf ears-including Messrs. Freeman and Buckley. Should Mr. Freeman ever free himself from the thrall of pointy-headed elitism that the National Review staff evidently devolved into, he might have a chance at regaining a bit of common sense and view the world as it really exists-not through the blue-blood tinted glasses of the new "conservative" elite. …