On Sunday, the New York Times published a long editorial, The Road Home, declaring the US effort in Iraq an utter failure, and insisting that we withdraw forthwith. Many agree. Of course, many of those who agree do so more from a visceral loathing of this administration and distrust of government in general, an inchoate pacifism and aversion to military action of any sort, or a view of the US as a swaggering bully with no moral standing, than from a sophisticated understanding of the labyrinthine historical, political, diplomatic, cultural, religious, strategic and tactical complexities of this extraordinarily difficult engagement. But, that said, complementary prejudices animate many of those on the other side, and there are certainly many sophisticated observers who do indeed share, in whole or in part, the pessimistic position taken by the Times.
The opposing viewpoint is expressed with succinctness and clarity by Victor Davis Hanson, who responds to the Times editorial, point by point, here.
Regardless of your opinion as to whether the action in Iraq was justified in the first place (I am of the opinion, along with Tom Friedman and others, that it was, but that the postwar management was catastrophically bungled), this is an agonizing and crucial debate; we stand now at a major historical crossroads. Whatever your current view of the way forward — and reasonable people may differ — Hanson’s essay is worthwhile reading.