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Saturday, June 7, 2003

The real reason

I just now took a look at the op-ed page of Wednesday's Times. Either our carrier missed us that day or somebody swiped the paper from the walk in front of our house, so I didn't get Wednesday's paper until it arrived along with Thursday's. I'm just now catching up.

Anyway, Thomas L. Friedman has an exquisite column there about the Iraqi war and the misplaced emphasis on the WMDs. He asserts that there were four reasons for the war -- the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason, and the stated reason. His take on the real reason really rang true with me:

The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn't enough because a terrorism bubble had built up over there a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things "martyrs" was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such "martyrs" was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.

The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world. And don't believe the nonsense that this had no effect. Every neighboring government and 98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen got the message. If you talk to U.S. soldiers in Iraq they will tell you this is what the war was about.

Of course, Tony Soprano explained this to us (albeit in words of fewer syllables) in this blog back in January.

Friedman's is a very thought-provoking and administration-sympathetic piece. You righties out there who like to trash the Times at every turn ought to give it a read.

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