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VDH on the War
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Victor Davis Hanson is strident, yes...but he also brings a strong knowledge of history and a sense of clarity, and that's why I like to read him.

And many times, he's right. He talks about criticism of the war in Afghanistan...and he's right:

After the seven-week defeat of the Taliban, these deer-in-the-headlights critics paused, and then declared the victory hollow. They said the country had descended into rule by warlords, and called the very idea of scheduled voting a laughable notion. We endured them for almost two years. Yet after the recent and mostly smooth elections, Afghanistan has slowly disappeared from the maelstrom of domestic politics, as all those who felt our efforts were not merely impossible but absurd retreated to the shadows to gnash their teeth that Kabul is not yet Carmel. Western feminists, homosexual-rights advocates, and liberal reformists have never in any definitive way expressed appreciation for the Afghan revolution now ongoing in the lives of 26 million formerly captive people. They never will. Instead, Westerners simply now assume that there was never any controversy, but rather a general consensus that Afghanistan is a "good thing" — as if the Taliban went into voluntarily exile due to occasional censure from The New York Review of Books.

Yes. I remember all the doom and gloom pre-invasion, how Afghanistan was the "graveyard of invading armies", comparisons to the British and Soviet invasions, quotations of Kipling. And then, after the Taliban fell, the criticism switched to dismissiveness. Now, even in the wake of elections, all the left can do is talk about what's still going wrong.

Tell do you please your critics if they continually move the target?

But I especially like his closing, a succinct refutation of past policies of both the left and the right, and an echoed refutation of the notion that democracy cannot be brought to a country "at gunpoint":

Those on the left who are ignorant of history lectured the Bush administration that democracy has never come as a result of the threat of conflict or outright war — apparently the creation of a democratic United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan was proof of the power of mere talk. In contrast, the old realist Right warned that strongmen are our best bet to ensure stability — as if Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been loyal allies with content and stable pro-American citizenries. In truth, George Bush's radical efforts to cleanse the world of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, bring democracy to the heart of the Arab world, and isolate Yasser Arafat were the most risky and humane developments in the Middle East in a century — old-fashioned idealism backed with force in a postmodern age of abject cynicism and nihilism.

I recommend reading the whole thing.

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