Where are we headed in Iraq? Should the U.S. intensify its military efforts? Cut and run? Implement Iraqification as fast as possible? What prices come with these potential moves? To discuss these issues, Jamie Glazov of FrontPageMag.com spoke with military historian Victor David Hanson; Khalid Al-Dakhil, an assistant professor of political sociology at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia and a visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment; and Jonathan Kay, editorials editor of the National Post.

Glazov: Let’s begin with a general question: Can we say still say with confidence that it was the right thing for the U.S. to go into Iraq? How do you read the current situation?

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Hanson: Examine three points. 

1) No more Scuds into Kuwait, Israel, invasions of Iraq and Iran; no more worry about petro-dollar-fed weapons programs; no more $20 billion/300,000 sortie no-fly zones; no more genocide of Kurds/Shiites; no more destruction of the Marsh Arabs; no more violations of the 1991 armistice agreements; no more troops in Saudi Arabia; et al.

2) So far at a cost of less than 400 lives, America has destroyed the Taliban and Hussein regimes (the worst in the Middle East), offered a chance of freedom for 50 million people, suffered no more 9/11s and changed the landscape of the region in a way that is quite unlike the old Cold War (just pump oil/keep out communists) Realpolitik that led to the appeasement or promotion of tyrants.

3) Despite the current hysteria, systematic progress toward a civil society continues in Iraq, as power, schools, politics, trade and infrastructure are getting better each month.

If we really are in a terrible war against Islamic fascists and their assorted autocratic abettors, then having such predisposed murderers collect in Iraq where they can be engaged and destroyed in the larger strategic picture of a global war is dangerous of course, but still not necessarily bad.

Kay: Assuming George W. Bush invaded Iraq with the intention of keeping U.S. troops there until the country is put on a stable path to pluralistic, representative government, then the attack was justified. The universal tyranny and endless warmongering that afflict the Arab world represents both a roadblock to human progress for 250-million people and a threat to world peace. Bush gets credit for bold thinking: A democratic Iraq will change the region.

Overall, I think it was a mistake for the coalition to focus single-mindedly on weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to war. Now that no weapons have been found, the United States has been made to look ridiculous, the war has been needlessly discredited, and conspiracy theories about oil are being nourished. It would have been wiser to emphasize the benefits Iraq’s liberation will bring to ordinary Iraqis. Saddam Hussein was a monster. And the current terrorism plague notwithstanding, his removal stands as one of the greatest human-rights triumphs of our era.

Al-Dakhil: The line that the U.S. invaded Iraq to remove the dictator, establish democracy, and turn Iraq into a model for the whole region is so simple, and too good to believe. Worse, this line of thinking makes the Pentagon looks like a charity organization – all it wants is simply to extend a helping hand to other people, spread democracy, fights the autocrats everywhere. And it’s ok if these efforts on the part of the Pentagon cost American lives and casualties (in the hundreds and thousands), and American treasure ( in the hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars ). After all that’s what the Pentagon is for.

But this is silly, the Pentagon is a state institution, and its main mission is to defend and protect the state interests. States are very jealous of their interests. In terms of the U.S. interests and objectives, I would think that it’s too early to make the judgement of whether it was the right thing to invade Iraq. On the other hand it was certainly wrong to invade the country…and then say rolling back is not an option. Because in this sense, the U.S. made itself, and against the will of the whole world, the judge, the plaintiff and the defendant at the same time….

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