Excerpts from Historian Victor Davis Hanson's column on NRO today.
"Someone somewhere did something that kept us safe, but we were strangely afraid to acknowledge that there was any utility in the very protocols and foreign operations that had weakened our enemies to the point of an inability to replicate 9/11."
"If one had collated everything candidate Obama declaimed about the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies from autumn of 2007 to November 2008, then one would have expected a President Obama to dismantle the entire Bush-Cheney national-security apparatus upon entering office, to pull out of Iraq (he originally said this should be done by March 2008, no less), and to keep our military out of the Middle East. Instead, Obama retained Secretary of Defense Gates, stuck to the Bush-Petraeus withdrawal plan in Iraq, expanded Predator-drone attacks in Waziristan, surged into Afghanistan, bombed Libya, and embraced everything from Guantanamo to renditions. That about-face, I think, was the most radical political development of the last quarter-century, and was treated with near silence by the media. It was as if Moveon.org, Code Pink, and Michael Moore had simply vanished from the face of the earth sometime around January 2009."
"The age-old idea that killing die-hard enemies wins wars and ensures the peace is for some antithetical to the spirit of counterinsurgency doctrine, at least superficially so…Tens of thousands of hard-core jihadists from as far away as Algeria, Chechnya, Egypt, the Gulf monarchies, Libya, Syria, and Yemen obeyed the calls for jihad issued by the likes of Osama bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri, and Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi. They flocked to al-Qaeda’s “main theater” of jihad in Iraq — and in Baghdad and throughout Anbar Province were killed in droves by the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies. Only off the record will military officers confess that the eventual American success in Iraq was due in some part to doing away with murderous jihadists and impressing the local population with our martial superiority. And even off the record, few will suggest that the absence of such killers from the world’s pool of hard-core terrorists may well have made life safer at home. We are in a new age when we “beat” or “subdue” the enemy but do not admit that we do that often through killing him. The Iraq War has become a story about troop levels, hearts and minds, and training the Iraqis, but not much about a shooting war in which thousands of jihadists lost."
"Conventional wisdom about our various responses to 9/11, and especially during the depression that followed from the Iraqi insurgency, dictated that the entire Arab Middle East would be set afire by U.S. intervention and retaliation…But in fact, while there were a few terrorist incidents, there were no oil embargoes, no mass uprisings, no concentrated attacks on U.S. bases."
"…for nearly 30 years Dick Cheney was a centrist fixer, praised by liberals as fair-minded, bipartisan, and sober and judicious in his rhetoric. He supported Ford over Reagan, tried to cut lavish weapons systems at the Pentagon, and brought a Wyoming humbleness to his Washington power-brokering. Then suddenly this all vanished with cries of “war criminal,” as the puerile Ronald Reagan Jr. recently exclaimed on MSNBC…Somehow bloggers and op-ed writers have established by their selective outrage a narrative that it was immoral of Cheney to approve the waterboarding of three confessed terrorists like KSM, but quite moral of Obama to expand fivefold the Predator targeted-assassination program that served as judge, jury, and executioner of suspected terrorists — and of any living thing in their vicinity when the Hellfire missiles obliterated their compounds."