Iraq doesn't need to be a Kodak moment for us to be winning in the greater view - Victor Davis Hanson

In "Winning Ugly," Victor Davis Hanson puts America's response to Islamist imperialim in perspective in this column in the National Review Online:

"... In the long-term, global conditions favor the West. Western free expression, consumer capitalism, consensual government, and popular culture are far more dynamic — and less insidiously intrusive — than is 7th-century Islam. If this generation of Westerners can prevent radical Islam from obtaining the means to destroy a Western capital, our own way of life will prove far more disruptive to al Qaeda’s worldview, than radical Islam has proven itself to the West.

All that the autocracies have going for them in the Middle East is the accident of a commodity beneath their feet that someone else found, developed, and buys. But $80-a-barrel oil eventually will anger Western democracies, India, and China enough for them to change. Those who produce global goods and services are handing over their profits to those who don’t — and that will spurn them on to find alternatives to current petroleum consumption. Remember these price hikes are probably permanent, and not the result of embargos or voluntary cutbacks; so the likelihood that OPEC can turn on the spigots and crash oil prices to deflect efforts to find alternate energy are far less true than during the 1980s.

Discover how to cut American imported oil, and we can prevent trillions in windfall profits from going to the Middle East. And if we can curtail American casualties in Iraq, then neither the length nor the size of the deployment become sources of acrimony. Instead the war in the public mind devolves into a long-term necessary challenge, analogous to our current deployments in Afghanistan or the Balkans.

There are a great number of uncertainties ahead. The Pakistani-Saudi nexus — that provides both sanctuary and money for terrorists — seems sacrosanct from criticism, and makes our efforts elsewhere to promote democratic reform hypocritical, when these two autocracies, one nuclear, the other laden with oil and cash, get a pass.

The United States must put its financial house in order, curtail its imported oil, stabilize Iraq, prevent somehow Iran from getting a bomb, find ways to continue to support democratic reform in the Middle East without providing one-vote, one-time plebiscites to radical Islamists, and explain all that we are doing — and why — far more coherently and eloquently to the American public.

But the current orthodoxy that America is losing the war on terror inside and outside Iraq, while bereft of allies, is simply not true. Instead we are winning — it’s ugly perhaps, but winning nonetheless.

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson fellow in military history and classics at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. This September he is teaching at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan as the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History.

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