Where you support or oppose the U.S.-led mission to achieve freedom for the Iraqi people, one criticism of the Bush administration seems to be unavoidable. This is that the Bush administration has never clearly explained the reasoning behind their decision.

The benefits of the forced regime change in Iraq are far reaching, but they are not immediately obvious to those whose intellectual capacity is limited to chanting “No blood for oil.”

The U.S.-led mission in Iraq is the single most far-sighted and strategic act of a Presidential administration in my lifetime. However, this is not an obvious fact and the Bush administration has done almost nothing to make it more understandable to the average person.

What we needed to do — and still need to do — is to make an example for Muslims all over the glove. An example of a prosperous and peaceful Democratic nation — that is also an Islamic nation. The next questions was selecting who what country we moved fast-forward into the 21st century.

Saudi Arabia? Ha! Get real. We could not take Mecca without causing a world war.

Afghanistan? Almost useless. Afghanistan is the sticks. The Arabs wouldn’t care that it existed at all, except that it provided a useful training ground for them. And good luck making Afghanistan democratic or prosperous. Afghanistan is still in the warlord stage of sociopolitical development. It’s going to take generations to fix.

Iran? Mmmm… Now we’re getting closer. Except, at the time, it looked strongly like the liberal Muslims were gaining ground inside Iran. It wouldn’t do to kick a liberal Muslim regime in the teeth.

What about Iraq?

Iraq had, and has, some very appealing qualities from military, political, and cultural standpoints:

  • Iraq has 1/3rd the population of Iran. This is easier to manage within budget.
  • We had already pretty much destroyed its armed forces. It was much easier to win a war with Iraq than a war with Iran.
  • Unlike Iran, the government of Iraq was very unpopular domestically. The Iraqi’s were ready for a new political direction.
  • Iraq was geographically perfect. It is reachable it by land and by sea annd it borders our entire next round of targets. America is, to a great extent, a sea power. We don’t fight well when we can’t use the ocean for resupply.
  • Everyone hated Saddam. The Muslims wouldn’t even stand up for that ruthless sonofabitch. The only friends he had were the French, Russians, and Germans whom he bribed — and they wouldn’t do anything for him but whine. We didn’t seriously believe that we would face French, German, or Russian troops defending Saddam from the United States Marine Corps.
  • We were already spending taxpayer dollars to enforce the no-fly zone. We didn’t want that situtation to last forever.
  • Saddam was completely ignoring the agreements he made which ended the last war — giving us clear legal justification for an invasion.
  • Iraq has an awesome population. Until The Baath Party took over in 1965, Iraq was doing very well. They are politically aware and ready for the future. As far as countries go, Iraq shouldn’t be much more difficult to turn around than East Germany — if we do it right.

Fixing Iraq is a critical component in winning the war on Islamist terrorism.

Whether you agree with this assessment or not, Al Qaeda clearly does. It took Al Qaeda a few months to work this all out, but as soon as they did they rushed troops, arms, and money into Iraq. Al Qaeda knows that they cannot let us win Iraq and still win their overall War Against Modernity.

Iraq is a difficult fight and it is going to remain difficult — because it’s critical for us and it’s critical for Al Qaeda. No one can afford to lose. That makes for a bitter fight, a long fight, and a bloody fight.

President Bush never promised us an easy war. However, I believe that Al Qaeda’s move into Iraq was more successful than we estimated. That’s one of the nasty things about war — the best laid plans go completely to hell as soon as the first shot is fired. Enemy action is dynamic and our enemies are smart and dedicated. This isn’t Hollywood, where every war ends after two hours. This is going to be a long bloody battle protecting the country we are incubating against all threats to its livelihood.