By David Beilstein
I have withstood the urge to come down on an evaluation of the Iraq War.
As a film student I have seen war’s effects on those who wage it. I have seen film students missing limbs—some burned in spirit where there is no visible marks. I have talked to a U.S. Army medic who fought in the Iraq War, killing many, and saving many lives, including Iraqi children.
This unnamed student’s life will never be the same. He is physically and emotionally beaten. So the cost is without measure—and we pay no service to the dead—or the living—in sideswiping the issue.
I have said the Iraq War was mismanaged.
I believe that to be sadly true. I personally agree with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s original intentions: remove Saddam, be out with the troops in a month. I believe the President of the United States has (and requires) constitutional powers to eliminate threats. To destroy the enemy.
President Jefferson did this in facing down the Barbary Pirates with a rabble of U.S. Marines. Victory assured, the pirates defeated—and Jefferson didn’t go to Congress. And Jefferson wrote Article I, Section 8. And also wrote, Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution. I trust Jefferson’s interpretation of the constitution over that of Ron Paul’s. Sorry, I do.
But let us be prudent and honest: President Jefferson did not stick around to socially engineer Tripoli.
He eliminated a threat.
On Crede, ut intelligas, I have also done my able best to show support for the Iraq War was not a conservative position. Conservatives felt that way in many circles because the left tried to use the war to destroy a Republican president who in the words of National Review was “the most electable conservative since Reagan.” George W Bush was a small-c Conservative, according to William F Buckley, Jr.
Alas, Bush did some conservative things.
But he was not conservative wholly, akin to Coolidge, Goldwater, or say, Buckley. Nevertheless, conservatives felt the need to defend Bush because of his cultural warrior vitality—his enemies were the enemies of the “true” right.
And so, conservatives defended the Bush administration without keen reflection in many another area. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has made this point quite elegantly.
At the end of his life Buckley had much harsher things to say about the Iraq War. And he intimated it was probably the least conservative thing to do in his rhetoric against the war months before his death. The late Christopher Hitchens supported the Iraq War—but with Buckley, denied it was a conservative policy when leftists tried to squeeze Hitchens into the neo-conservative cabal.
It has been said in the past: great minds think alike—see St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. But great minds violently disagree too. See St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin.
In the end, conservatives were divided over the Iraq War. Those conservatives who argued against the war were too often said to not be conservative, or worse, unpatriotic. Conservatives who were most against the war were of the paleo-conservatives and libertarian fold.
However, too many conservatives who did support the war (I include myself here) were lambasted as neo-conservatives. But we weren’t and we remain so.
It was mostly those on the left who argued endlessly about the unconstitutional nature of the Iraq War. This was akin to micturating in the Nigeria. The Iraq War was constitutional based upon Article I, Section 8, and Article II, Section II, of the U.S. Constitution.
One will find no argument for or against the Iraq War within the parameters of the Constitution. The Iraq War is an issue of geopolitical prudence, or wisdom—or lack thereof.
But if a sound reflective could be written, it belongs to Mark Steyn.