David Rivkin and Lee Casey argue, in the Washington Times, that the Iraqi war is “the right war at the right time.” Their main contention is that the war was necessary “to prove beyond doubt that an international outlaw could not defy American power, and get away with it.” In this regard, they believe that “humbling Saddam was critical to the recovery of American prestige and credibility in a region where such things matter and this, in turn, is a necessary pre-condition to victory in the war on terror.”
I agree with this justification for the war, and I espoused it on a number of occasion prior to the commencement of our action. But whether the war can ultimately be justified on this basis depends on whether it results in enhanced prestige. And that turns on whether we are successful in Iraq. If, instead of Saddam, terrorists and insurgents successfully deny our power, then we will (at least in terms of Rivkin/Casey justification) be worse off for having gone into Iraq. Thus, one can argue that it is too early to say whether the Iraqi war was the right war at the right time.
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