- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

“Fahrenheit 9/11,” Moveon.org, Anonymous, Richard Clarke and now the Newsweek story about alleged desecration of the Koran — all these current sensations have been used in the Middle East to proclaim the supposed sins of the U.S. administration. Even when Americans consider President Bush’s foreign policy might just be working, he is still caricatured by critics and the media, here and abroad, as a clueless Inspector Clouseau who trips around and only stumbles into his good luck. How accurate is that cartoon?

Just imagine if George Bush had predicted to us on the morning after September 11, 2001, what actually ended up happening. He might have delivered the following speech:

“Ours is not a war on Muslims or the Arab world. Rather, we are in a struggle against a new fascism that resorts to terror. Osama bin Laden must distort Islam and deflect blame onto the United States for the self-inflicted miseries of the Middle East, created by its own illiberal dictatorships.

“Therefore, American strategy is three-pronged:

“We will hunt down terrorist cells in the United States that due to our laxity have already infiltrated the West.

“America will remove rogue regimes abroad that have funded and supported these killers.

“In their places, the United States will support consensual governments to ensure a third choice other than just Islamic theocracy or brutal dictatorship.

“First, we must go on the offensive. In less than a month, our forces will go to faraway Afghanistan and remove the Taliban within six weeks upon arrival. From that victory, democracy will follow for all Afghans, regardless of tribe or gender.

“Some regimes openly sanction terrorists. Others have entered secretive alliances with them. Saddam Hussein has violated all his past international agreements and murdered thousands of his own and others across his borders. The Senate no doubt will sanction his removal because he is an enemy of the United States, subsidizing antidemocratic terrorists from the West Bank to Kurdistan. In three weeks, we can liberate Iraq from Saddam’s Ba’athist nightmare and stay to help the long-suffering Iraqis secure their freedom under a new democracy.

“Pakistan has been hostile, but its cooperation is vital to dismantle al Qaeda. We must win President Pervez Musharraf to the side of civilization and prod him to reform. Such cooperation is fraught with danger. It demands exposure of the nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan and cessation of his efforts to spread nuclear weapons worldwide.

“If we are successful, in the next four years most of al Qaeda’s leadership will be scattered into hiding, apprehended or killed.

“Democracy is a human aspiration and thus contagious. After our successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, America may well see democratic awakenings in Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf States.

“Such reform could serve as an inspiration to peoples even as far distant as the former Soviet republics and Ethiopia. Syria must and will leave Lebanon to the Lebanese. It is also past time for Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi to come clean about his dangerous arsenal. Europeans should join us in stopping the nuclear plans of theocratic Iran.

“Yasser Arafat corrupted elections in Palestine. He embezzled billions from his own citizens, subverting all his commitments to peace. Arafat must be shunned and his subsidies cut off. Only that way can fair elections return to the West Bank. The American government certainly will no longer see him as a representative of the Palestinian people.

“Despite our historic relationship with Saudi Arabia, American troops will leave the kingdom. Saddam soon will no longer pose a threat, and we must distance ourselves from a Saudi monarchy whose rogue princes have funded terrorists.

“None of this will be easy, given our past appeasement of terrorists, the world’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the global distrust of American force.

“Congress will debate this agenda. We must await its vote of approval before moving against both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. This administration shall stand for election in three years — and so the wisdom or folly of these risky policies will be determined by the American voter.

“The Taliban ruler Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein are formidable. Their removal halfway around the world may cost hundreds of American lives. Yet if we act forcefully now, we can fight the suicide bombers and autocrats on their own turf. That way, in the days ahead we will lose far fewer Americans in this war abroad than we have yesterday in peace at home.

“Only this difficult road ensures that in four years we will not witness a repeat of yesterday’s mass murder on American soil.”

Had the president promised or even predicted such things after September 11, 2001, most of us would have dismissed him as utterly unhinged. But that is precisely what has come to pass.

It is now time to concede it was not entirely a coincidence, and President Bush was not a “Pink Panther”-like Inspector Clouseau who bumbled about the Middle East, overturned a few things and ended up accidentally accomplishing what legions of “experts” never could.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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