Free Iraq!

That was the slogan on lawn signs in Minnesota prior to the war; in today’s Wall Street Journal, blogger Stephen den Beste addresses the “real reason we went into Iraq”:
“…to create a secularized, liberated, cosmopolitan society in a core Arab nation. To create a place where Arabs were free and safe and unafraid and happy and successful and not ruled by corrupt monarchs or brutal dictators. This would demonstrate to the other people in the Arab and Muslim worlds that they can succeed, but only if they abandon those political, cultural and religious chains that are holding them back.
“We are not doing this out of altruism….We are bringing reform to Iraq out of narrow self-interest. We have to foster reform in the Arab/Muslim world because it’s the only real way in the long run to make them stop trying to kill us.”
Yes, that’s right. Den Beste adds that George Bush and Tony Blair couldn’t give this rationale the emphasis it deserved prior to the war because: “Making clear a year ago that this was our true agenda would have virtually guaranteed that it would fail. Among other things, it would have caused all of the brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs in the region to unite with Saddam against us, and would have made the invasion impossible. But now the die is cast, and said brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs no longer have the ability to stop the future.”
Finally, den Beste argues that Americans do have the will to finish the job in Iraq: “[W]e’re not going to forget 9/11. On some level or another, it’s going to be a major political issue here for the next few decades, until we’re convinced that the danger is gone….In order to remove the danger to us that Japan represented, it had to be reformed. So that’s what happened. Now we’re going to try to do the same to the Arabs. And we’ll do whatever we need to in order to make sure nothing like 9/11 happens again.
“[T]he one thing we’re not going to do is to surrender. We’ll try to solve this as humanely as we can, but solve it we must, and I believe that this nation will do whatever it needs to in order to remove the danger facing it.”
Den Beste elaborates further on these themes on his web site, USS Clueless.