The Weekly Standard has two excellent pieces up today. First, Hugh Hewitt presents a devastating critique of the New York Times for its “rush to score political points out of [the] terrorist attack on U.S. troops” in Mosul. As Hugh demonstrates, Times reporter Richard Stevenson decided, without any support other than a quote from Warren Rudman(?!), that “the loss of two dozen soldiers’ lives must somehow turn into a repudiation of the recently reelected president.” The liberal media’s coverage of the war in Iraq reminds me of certain radicals I knew years ago who were so eager to witness capitalism’s demise that every economic bump — a dip in the stock market or an increase in the unemployment or inflation rate — was greeted as a sure sign of the “final crisis” of capitalism.
Second, Tom Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute argues that we were right to disband Saddam Hussein’s army. Donnelly gets to the essence of the matter when he points out that “security institutions ‘legitimate’ to one group [of Iraqis], in the sense of having popular support, are violently unacceptable to others.” In that context, as we have argued before, it probably would have been a mistake to have relied on Saddam’s Baathist army to provide security. Indeed, according to Donnelly, “it is putting the cart before the horse to believe that there can ever be fully legitimate and effective national military forces prior to the birth of a legitimate national government.”
UPDATE: Michael Ledeen writes:
Am I wrong to say that the debate over “dismantling the Baathist Army” is a red herring? I agree with Tom Donnelly–my friend and colleague–that it would probably have been a mistake to maintain it. But I don’t think we ever had that option. They dismantled themselves, as I understand the sequence of events. And those that are participating in the terror war against the Coalition were part of a planned strategy, as we know from Iraqi documents, to recreate in Iraq what the Syrians and Iranians did to us in Lebanon in the 1980s. That is what we are fighting against today.
For more, see Ledeen’s NRO column today: “Values and interests.”