The idea that we should have given Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt on his weapons of mass destruction, and cease-fire violations, always seemed strange to me. In the hours after the World Trade Center fell, a great many Americans wanted to do a lot more than invade Afghanistan or Iraq. We certainly have the power to do a lot more. It is to our eternal credit that we did not use it. In the aftermath of an unspeakably brutal attack, we could have done our worst, but we did our best instead. The flag-draped coffin of an American soldier blazes with the glory of a man or woman who sacrificed everything to defend American lives, while also cherishing the value of innocent foreign lives.
If we are to defeat the evil that brought down the World Trade Center, we must do more than dig a handful of vermin from the mountains of Afghanistan. Brave men and women have made a breathtaking start in Iraq. Celebrating the honor of their achievement does not require us to forget the mistakes our leaders made along the way. Failure to learn from the mistakes made in war is a sin against the fallen. As we measure those mistakes, we should consider that changing a people without destroying them first is the undiscovered country of warfare, and Americans are its lonely pioneers.