Over at The Tank on National Review Online, I expressed a few thoughts going forward as Michael Yon confidently called in from Iraq to say, “The war is over and we won.”
After noting that there are a lot of people – known and unknown to the public – who deserve measures of credit for the successful strategy that made victory possible, we dare not forget one important man amid all the criticisms, due and undue.
But the fact remains that only President George W. Bush made or would have made the command decision he made. Only President George W. Bush, derided and vilified, had the conviction and determination to allow a path to victory when nearly everyone else had written Iraq — and her people — off to defeat. Call it “The Audacity of Victory.”
Imagine life as an Iraqi in Baghdad or Ramadi or even Fallujah or Najaf or Baquba and all points between had President Bush relented to common popular domestic and international wisdom, opinion and sentiment and left the Iraqi people to the wolves among them, only to abandon them by “ending it,” executing an “honorable withdrawal,” or “redeploying” our forces. Our defeat would have been theirs ten-fold. Ask one.
Our current narrative-defining trifecta of media, political elite, and academia will surely not credit George W. Bush with achieving victory in Iraq while they are afforded the more palatable option of crediting a President Barack H. Obama with a draw-down of forces. But it is with certainty afforded by said trifecta’s predictability that without President George W. Bush’s steadfast determination and leadership, the events, discussion and reporting surrounding Iraq today would be horrific in nature.
The audacity of victory. You have to want it.
I’ve had my differences with President Bush, some of them quite pointed. But let’s not forget that it was President Bush who was the one man that stood between retreat & defeat and victory. No one in political office in Washington – not a single soul aside from perhaps John McCain – would have defied prevailing popular opinion and pressed the surge in order to secure the Iraqi people and win the war.
Forget first instincts to debate one way or the other. Think of the Iraqi people. There is certainty that most of them would be subject to terrorist rule today had we bailed as so many demanded, or under the crazed dictatorial thumb of Saddam Hussein and his deranged sons had we never gone in.
Contemporary history will not be kind to President Bush, but in the long run, he will be remembered well for that act. That says more about those writing the immediate contemporary history than it does about the President.