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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Hanson Makes the Case For Fortitude 
An excerpt from his latest essay in NRO:

Yet leaving unilaterally from Iraq would be a tragic mistake. We have already done something like that before — many times. What rippled out afterwards was not pretty. American helicopters flying off the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975 gave us the climate for the Soviets in Afghanistan, Communists in Central America, and embassy hostage-taking in Tehran. Ignoring murders in Lebanon, New York, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, or lobbing an occasional cruise missile as tit-for-tat payback when terrorists harvested one too many expendable Americans abroad, ensured us September 11. In our loony world, losing credible deterrence (and we would) is an invitation for disaster — as bin Laden himself illustrated when he logically thought that the toppling of the World Trade Center would be followed by another Black Hawk Down American pullback.

Leaving Afghanistan to its own misery after the Soviet retreat, not going to Baghdad in 1991, turning boats around from Haiti, or quietly ducking out of Mogadishu all were less messy in the short term, but in the long term left even greater chaos. The ultimate wages were the Taliban, 350,000 sorties for over a decade above Iraq, the current mess in the Caribbean, and terrorist havens and worse in Africa. We forget how often in history a perceived stumble or the half-measure only emboldens enemies to try what they otherwise would not.

In contrast, on those occasions when we have shown the patience to stay engaged after victory — in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Panama, or the Balkans — there was less chance that Americans would be left with either perpetual autocratic enemies or terrorist sanctuaries.



Link.

RTWT.

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