Anyone restricting his news intake to the alternative reality in the liberal media might easily get the impression that the U.S.-led effort to liberate Iraq is failing.
Already, a week into the war, the word "quagmire" has surfaced. That is liberalspeak for "another Vietnam."
But, if liberals are ready to surrender to Saddam Hussein, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are not.
They are doing an incredible job under the most difficult circumstances.
This is a war of liberation, not of conquest, so the military forces are using ordnance with a degree of precision and cost the world never has witnessed.
During World War II, the allies dropped hundreds of bombs in the hope that one would hit its target. The others were likely to kill the civilian population, which was not an overriding concern in that all-out war.
In this war, the allies are taking out military targets and leaving intact facilities such as water treatment plants and hospitals just yards away. Military units are taking great pains to avoid any damage also to sites of great religious or historical significance.
While the coalition of the willing wages war against the Iraqi regime, the Iraqi regime wages war against the Iraqi people. It has starved and tortured and murdered them into submission for years. Now, there are reports of wives and children being taken hostage to force civilians to take up arms and oppose their liberators, and even of shooting them while wearing U.S. uniforms.
At the same time Americans are trying to fight their way to Baghdad under these conditions, they are becoming props in a propaganda war aimed at the world's Arab and Muslim populations.
Anyone watching Al-Jazeera or the liberal U.S. networks, for example, probably didn't see the Fox News video of Iraqi teenagers shaking hands with allied soldiers, and a beaming younger child give a big thumbs up. (Let's hope he wasn't beheaded by Iraqis.)
The big lie, among many, is that the United States is "empire building."
When badgered by a former archbishop of Canterbury on this subject recently, Fred Barnes said in the Weekly Standard, Colin Powell put it to rest this way: "We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last 100 years ... and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in."
The perception battle should be a secondary importance to realizing the military objective with minimum casualties. The rest of the world will react according to the individual's ability to think rationally and his appreciation for freedom. Some will hail the U.S. victory and respect the winner. Others will hate the outcome, but will fear the winner, which can be an effective substitute for respect.
One thing to avoid afterward is protracted "nation building." Free the Iraqis, give them their nation and leave. It would be tempting but futile to insist that it be a democracy. The Arab world is a long way from freedom.
Even in the desert, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville - March 29
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