Hate to say it, but I harbor some respect for our Secretary of Defense. Not for his track-record before office, not for his person, but for his ability to cut through the crap and bring people–and the military–up to speed.
His op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the topic of Iraq is especially commendable. Check it out for yourself, and here is a quote to whet your apetite:
There are still difficulties in Iraq, to be sure–crime, inflation, gas lines, unemployment. But the fact that such difficulties exist should come as no surprise: No nation that has made the transition from tyranny to a free society has been immune to the difficulties and challenges of taking that path–not even our own.
The years after our war of independence involved a good deal of chaos and confusion. There were uprisings such as Shays’ Rebellion, with mobs attacking courthouses and government buildings. There was rampant inflation caused by the lack of a stable currency and the issue of competing paper monies by the various states. There were regional tensions between mercantile New England and the agrarian south. There was looting and crime and a lack of an organized police force. There were supporters of the former regime whose fate had to be determined. Our first effort at a governing charter–the Articles of Confederation–failed miserably, and it took eight years of contentious debate before we finally adopted our Constitution and inaugurated our first president. And, unlike the people of Iraq, we did not face the added challenge of recovering from the trauma of decades of brutal rule by a dictator like Saddam Hussein.
The point is this: It is now just seven weeks since Iraq’s liberation–and the challenges are there. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “we are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed.” It took time and patience, but eventually our Founders got it right–and we hope so will the people of Iraq–over time.
It is important to keep exactly that point in mind: just because we live in relative order does not mean that order is the default state of nature. The creation of order takes time, and I hope the US and UK forces will take the necessary steps to establish order in Iraq while protecting Iraqi’s individual rights.