Bret Stephens of the Jerusalem Post has an extremely thoughtful year-end wrap-up reflecting on the strained relationship between the United States and the Axis of Weasels: “Lost in translation.” Stephens’s perspective in the piece has the large view of a Victor Davis Hanson column with a bit of an Israeli twist.
Stephens’s column is long and hard to excerpt, but here’s a chunk from the heart of the piece: “America is a revolutionary power that seeks to reshape the Middle East along more democratic lines. Even those who grant Americans the best of motives may be excused for finding this frightening. The US may be able to afford its own blunders in complicated and unpleasant places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Other countries may not so be able.
“‘If you are sailing in a sea of sh-t, you don’t rock the boat,’ goes an old Israeli saying. There’s wisdom in that. On the other hand, if the craft you happen to be sailing displaces 95,000 tons, you’re likely to figure the risks differently. In 2001, the US proved it could do in six weeks, and with a few hundred soldiers, what the Soviet Union failed to do in a decade with several armored divisions: that is, securely install the government of its choice in Kabul.
“This year again, the US exceeded nearly every expectation for the war in Iraq. It was predicted Saddam Hussein would sabotage his own oil infrastructure, creating an ecological nightmare. It was predicted he would draw coalition forces into savage urban fighting. It was predicted the war would cause a humanitarian catastrophe, taking as many as two million lives according to one report prepared for the German foreign ministry. It was predicted Saddam would unleash chemical and biological weapons on the invading forces, and perhaps upon Israel.
“None of that happened, mainly because the US instantly neutralized Saddam’s command and control system. In three weeks, America conquered a country of 23 million people with two divisions and a few odd brigades. More than demonstrating superior firepower
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