Can’t Have it Both Ways: Which Bush was Right in Handling Iraq

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There seems no shortage of nay-sayers when it comes to Iraq.

Critics of our 41st President spent a dozen years after the fact crawling out of the woodwork to snipe at him with their 20/20 hindsight for not “finishing the job” by ordering his victorious Desert Storm forces to ride on up the highway of death out of Kuwait and into Baghdad itself in 1991 to oust Saddam Hussein.


These selfsame critics, including ”’The Honolulu Advertiser,”’ now quail at the prospect that under the wartime leadership of our 43rd President — and the stunningly swift combat success of the troops he ordered into Iraq — pacifying Iraq may take years and cost as much as $600 billion. (EDITORIAL; Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003 )

So what’s it going to be? One cannot have it both ways regardless of how much loathing for Bush the father and Bush the son fires the editorial cauldron.

Advertiser is, however, to be commended for finally blundering into the truth by discovering the obvious: Iraq is “a battle that the United States simply cannot afford to lose.”

It is also well to keep in mind the painful lesson taught to us by JFK, the wastrel, and LBJ, the liar, when they gratuitously plunged us into the bloody Indochina conflict four decades ago — no one ever succeeded in war with a goal of merely not losing it. Douglas MacArthur said it best: In war, there is no substitute for victory. Not loss-avoidance, Advertiser, VICTORY!

These unpleasant truths compel Advertiser to choose sides in the war that was declared against America by our mortal enemies. In the words of President Bush in his speech to the nation on Sept. 14, 2001, “Either you are for us or you are against us.” There is no safe middle ground from which the pampered and the protected might seek to spout their pretentious mush in the misguided belief that one can remain “objective” and aloof. That humbug will wither as this trial by combat arms continues.

Difficult as it may be for Advertiser to admit, each and every one of us is in this mortal struggle up to our eyeballs and have been so since 9/11. There are no frontlines and because of that, there are no sidelines. As the legendary world champion heavyweight Joe Louis once advised a would-be opponent as he entered the ring, “You can run, but you can’t hide.”

”’Thomas E. Stuart is a resident of Kapaau, Hawaii.”’