Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mission accomplished

The main importance of Bin Laden's elimination is one that I don't hear being discussed: it means that the US will not lose the war in Afghanistan.

When the US invaded Iraq, I said, basically: great, now they made themselves vulnerable to the fundamentalists, who will do to them what the Vietcong did. And then it will spread to Afghanistan as well. In the end, the Americans will run away, and we will be left with a much stronger Jihadi movement, invigorated by the fact that they defeated the almighty America. Nice going, Uncle Sam.

For a long while, it seemed my fears were coming true. But now, no one will be able to say that the Americans were defeated in Afghanistan, or Iraq. Primary objectives - getting Bin Laden and Saddam - have been achieved.

After the invasion into Afghanistan, aimed at going after Al Qaeda, President Bush became more ambitious, and set a new primary objective, a much bolder one: to bring democracy to the Middle East, and thus dry the swamps that breed terrorists. That was the main reason he invaded Iraq, but the logic was all wrong. He was right in identifying the source of terrorism, but his belief that the US is strong enough to make this change was ridiculous.

But then, a miracle happened. What took place in the past six months is the best thing you could hope for. The Arab people themselves have risen, and demand freedom. We are still many years away from seeing real democracy in the Arab world, but the first and all-important step has been made. Also, this has completely invalidated the ideology of Al Qaeda, which claims that the only way for the Muslims to win back their honor is by violence. Even before Bin Laden's death, the Al Qaeda ideology was a dead horse.

The past few months vindicate Bush to a large extent. The idea that you can enforce democracy on people was foolish, and the invasion of Iraq was impetuous and dangerous. But the Bush administration did other things as well, smarter things, which helped advance the liberal forces in the Arab world. The credit for the revolution goes to the Arabs themselves, but the US helped.

Al Qaeda is defeated. Saddam in defeated. Democratic movement in the Arab world has been initiated. The governments of Afghanistan and Iraq are fairly functioning. The wars against the Taliban and Iran are undecided. That's a pretty good score.

So, eight years after Bush did, it is finally time to say: mission accomplished. Bring the boys back home.