The Associated Press reports today on the final withdrawal of American forces from the territory of Iraq, ending an 8 year ordeal that strained the fabric of American society and cost an estimated 800 billion in resources and over 4000 American lives. The withdrawal of the forces was successfully navigated by a President and administration that had declared their very presence in Iraq a massive mistake and primary incitement to further violence in the region, yet in the end, declared the outcome of a functioning democratic Iraq a worthwhile sequelae of the original action. The contrarian notion of abhorring the action and celebrating the outcome is part of the conflicted nature of almost all the thought processes that developed out of the stunning violence of September 11th, 2001, and the protracted aftermath of the United States through both its actions and inactions.
History takes significant time and measured thought to provide the informative feedback that brings clarity. The “off the cuff” reactionaries that inhabit many of our academic and governmental institutions base much of their comments on the cacophany of unfiltered stream of information of the day and innate biases of their political persuasion, rather than any inciteful analysis of history and the foundations that led to the actions of the last ten years. As the decision to take action in Iraq and the measure of the outcome gets appropriate perspective over time, perhaps we will be able to better synthesize the thought processes that led to the better outcomes and discern those that failed, in a ongoing mission to forge a better society and civilized existence. The politicians will keep score with a skewered scorecard that maximizes their best impulses and hides their worst for their own benefit. A society is more than a politician’s means of employment, though, and a healthy society takes the time to understand itself and its actions that allows for progress and development that transcends politician’s egocentric interpretations.
The recently departed Christopher Hitchens was quoted as saying a pseudo-intellectual is a person who is sure he is right about what ain’t so. At Ramparts we will try to not make that mistake. The Iraq war was a component of many considerations that grew out of the Soviet incursion into Afganistan in the late 1970’s and the mujahideen response to the invasion, the overthrow of the Shah and eventual rise of Islamo-fascism, the Palestinian Israeli conflict, the invasion of Kuwait in 1991 by Saddam Hussein, and the successful development of a world wide nihilistic terror organization that culminated in 9/11. Try as we might to extricate it as a separate, unrelated, and perhaps unnecessary diversion, history will not allow. Thanks to Instapundit and the producers of Uncommon Knowledge, we have today a unique snapshot of perspective of two discerning thinkers in 2002, prior to Iraq, that provides a reminder of what was going through our minds we did not know what we know now, and didn’t have the confident swagger of the pseudo-intellectuals of today for whom it all seems so obvious. It is no small gift of history that the two participants were Christopher Hitchens, recently departed, and Newt Gingrich, who now hopes to be President.