February 27, 2006
Iraq Is Not Lost

By Lieutenant Colonel John M. Kanaley

During Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt, a Muslim writer described his fascination and admiration for the French method of jurisprudence even during hostilities. According to historian Bernard Lewis, the writer compared French due process to the extremist Muslims who pretended to be warriors in a holy war but killed people and destroyed human beings for no other reason than to gratify their animal passions. This terrorist tactic is not new to this current war; yet, it is having an adverse effect on how some people define success. Too many have fallen under the influential barrage of the information campaign waged by the terrorists and by those who believe the time has come to leave the Middle-East theater, regardless of the outcome for Iraq.

The latest victim of negative news comes from a most unexpected source-the preeminent conservative thinker of the past half century: William F. Buckley. He once eloquently debated Ronald Reagan during the Carter years on the Panama Canal issue, against the wave of conservative thought at that time. However, he now has presented his perception of failure on the Iraq war in less convincing terms.

The sources contributing to his position are quite questionable. He has apparently relied upon the New York Times to provide a ‘man on the street’ quote from an Iraqi businessman. He continued by mentioning the Iranian president’s usual “blame everything on the Zionists” reference. Buckley’s last source came from an inconclusive thought provided by an “anonymous” American soldier.

To enhance his belief in his essay, “It Didn’t Work”, Mr. Buckley described how the businessman blames Iraq’s problems on America. It is puzzling to rely on this quote, since the man is described as being a member of a Sunni stronghold, so it is not difficult to surmise where his loyalties originate. This same interviewing technique would have produced the same result from Berlin in 1945.

The anonymous soldier that Buckley referred to apparently has come to the realization that he is now aware of why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each other’s throats. (Apparently, the news organizations failed to report that Hussein must have finished a close second for the Nobel Peace Prize for his protection of the Shiites). Rather than playing the referee in Baghdad, evidence shows that the butcher was actually leading the Sunni charge against the Shiite throats in a one-way contest of torture and suppression.

It is surprising that such a learned man as Buckley has fallen victim to the misinformation side of this conflict. He attempts to back up his interpretation of this war being a failure by posing some postulates. The first one is that the Iraqi people would put aside their divisions and establish a political environment that guarantees religious freedom. If he assumes that the Iraqis failed in this pursuit, he should review the second paragraph of Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution which expressly delineates that particular freedom.

Mr. Buckley’s second postulate assumes that Americans would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers to handle insurgents bent on violence. He followed this by saying that this did not happen. His conclusion is absolutely false. What war has he been watching? The training program is currently underway and has succeeded to the extent that the Iraqis are taking on missions and commanding terrain previously under the control of the coalition.

Mr. Buckley went on to ask what we should do when we see that the postulates do not prevail. Unfortunately, he has come to false conclusions because he has negated the postulates without looking at the data, relying instead upon the massive amount of negative reporting, and apparently basing his ultimate conclusion on three unreliable sources in his essay. Eventually, his suggestion is to abandon the postulates.

Why abandon success just because the enemy and the anti-war crowd say it has failed? Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to place the events in Iraq in context. From the signing of the American Declaration of Independence, it took nearly 40 years, a constitutional convention, and four presidents to finally achieve a sense of security in the United States. In the country’s infancy, it was never completely secure with the English, French, and Spanish waiting for the right opportunity to recover all they had lost at the expense of the American quest for freedom and sovereignty.

As the third anniversary of the Iraqi invasion approaches, the success in that country is undeniable. One of world’s bloodiest tyrants has been deposed and the first elections were held less than 22 months later. Nine months afterward, a constitution had been formed and overwhelmingly approved by a public referendum. To cap off the electoral success of 2005, a permanent government was voted upon. A momentous achievement to note was that the voters for the new Council of Representatives included a significant number of Sunnis who had boycotted the first election.

In one of his closing comments, Mr. Buckley assumes that eventually President Bush and the military leaders will acknowledge a tactical setback and instead insist on the survival of strategic policies. He has the tactical and strategic definitions confused. The war has been an overwhelming tactical success. Even the enemy has conceded this, which is why the terrorists have relied upon the sensational news of blowing up innocent civilians. Since they are unable to confront coalition forces or the Iraqi Army, they have targeted the weakest link, yet survive upon the benefits that the mainstream media and the left have provided. Those unwilling to continue the success in Iraq look upon the negative news and are adamant that this must be leading to a civil war, thus, indicating defeat in the overall mission. On the contrary, the President and top military leaders have maintained a consistent vision for success in the strategic arena which requires a firm commitment to ensure a free and democratic Iraq.

It is difficult to witness somebody of Buckley’s stature acknowledging defeat in the last sentence of his essay. Has he fallen for the boisterous negativity of the anti-war crowd? Mr. Buckley, say it isn’t so. The title of your piece is wrong. The strategic mission in Iraq has worked and it continues to do so.

John M. Kanaley is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. He serves in Baghdad, Iraq.

 © 2000-2006 RealClearPolitics.com   All Rights Reserved

John M. Kanaley

Email Author
Print This Article
Send Article To a Friend


More Commentary

Bush's Grand Strategy - Michael Barone
Oncoming - David Warren
Politics of Ports - Robert Novak


More From Lt. Colonel Kanaley

Unreported History in Baghdad