"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, January 05, 2007

2007 thus far

Brief thoughts for a briefly existing New Year:

  • R.I.P. James Brown and President Gerald Ford.
  • I hope it's nice and warm where you are, Saddam. Your end was relatively quick and painless, a luxury denied the thousands you gassed, tortured, and otherwise brutalized during your tenure in power. But what should have been a serious end to what was an O.J. trial redux turned, instead, into a farce that could not have highlighted better the problems plaguing Iraq. It would've been one thing to hear cries of "Allahu akbar" as the trapdoor fell; instead, Saddam's executioners shouted the praises of yet another thug, Moqtada al-Sadr, a man equally deserving of the hangman's noose. I don't know if travesty covers it, but the Iraqi government certainly blew a hinge moment. Perhaps this is further evidence that Iraq will follow the pattern of other modern failed states; perhaps a revamped American strategy will change that. But at least we can take solace in one thing: Saddam is dead, and he is never coming back. No longer can he butcher his own people, invade his neighbors, or forment terrorism in Israel. Good riddance.
  • Speaking of revamped strategies, we've all heard that a "troop surge" is part of President Bush's new plan for victory in Iraq. I hope it works, because we're running out of time for new plans to have any chance of success. If all the chats he's been having with various advisors and experts pays off, then he'll couple increased troop numbers with other changes that will capitalize on our larger presence. And goal number one should be: kill Moqtada al-Sadr and every member of his barbaric militia. After hearing that Bush has tapped General David Petraeus to be the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll see things turn around in the New Year. If anyone in the American military understands how to make things happen in Iraq, it's Petraeus.
  • And on the cautiously optimistic note: I ended 2006 with a sense of foreboding that radical Islam would keep racking up victory after victory, big and small, militarily and politically, in a world too terrified to fight it. 2007 brought a hell of a turnaround. In Somalia, a radical movement imposed brutal Sharia law on most of the country and drove the internationally-supported government into a lone stronghold. Now the shoe's on other foot: the Islamists have been driven to the sea by Ethiopian tanks and jets, and their only escape route has been cut off by the U.S. Navy. The world may still give in to a nuclear Iran, and Europe to an increasingly radicalized populace, but we can finally chalk one up in the win column for the good guys.

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