The phrase "Those who forget history....
....are doomed to repeat it" never seems less trite than when a historian articulates the lessons we should have learned. And no historian I'm aware of is more adroit at the task than Victor Davis Hanson.
Much of the recent domestic critique of American efforts in the Middle East has long roots in our own past — and little to do with the historic developments on the ground in IraqEach of Hanson's points is well buttressed with evidence. What may be surprising to some is that these same silly arguments have been made both by the left and the right.
1. "It's America's fault."
2. "Americans are weak."
3. "They are supermen."
4. "We are alone."
Hanson closes with this.
It is wise to cite and publicize our errors — and there have been many in this war. Humility and circumspection are military assets as well. And we should not deprecate the danger of our enemies, who are cruel and ingenious. Moreover, we should never confuse the sharp dissent of the well-meaning critic with disloyalty to the cause.Clarity like this can only come from one who examines the flaws in his own arguments at least as critically as those he examines in others.
But nor should we fall into pessimism, when in less than four years we have destroyed the two worst regimes in the Middle East, scattered al Qaeda, avoided another promised 9/11 at home, and sent shock waves of democracy throughout the Arab world — so far at an aggregate cost of less than what was incurred on the first day of this unprovoked war. Car bombs are bad news, but in the shadows is the real story: The terrorists are losing, and radical reform, the likes of which millions have never seen, is right on the horizon. So this American gloominess is not new. Yet, if the past is any guide, our present lack of optimism in this struggle presages its ultimate success.
A final prediction: By the end of this year, formerly critical liberal pundits, backsliding conservative columnists, once-fiery politicians, Arab "moderates," ex-statesmen and generals emeriti, smug stand-up comedians, recently strident Euros — perhaps even Hillary herself — will quietly come to a consensus that what we are witnessing from Afghanistan and the West Bank to Iraq and beyond, with its growing tremors in Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, and the Gulf, is a moral awakening, a radical break with an ugly past that threatens a corrupt, entrenched, and autocratic elite and is just the sort of thing that they were sort of for, sort of all along — sort of...