Victor Davis Hanson’s rightful excoriation of Agence France-Presse is yet another reminder of the historical whitewashing under way. Until perhaps a future time, when less ideological historians prevail, we’re going to be treated to narratives about the Iraq war very much like AFP’s. Lost will be two fundamental realities: First, we won the war. Second, we prevailed against not one but two medieval tyrannies.
Except for the rarest exceptions, those who did not go to war simply do not understand first the horror of the Hussein regime and second the horror of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s control over vast sections of the country. While there’s fairly broad consensus that AQI’s horrors were inflicted because of our own strategic failures early in the war (I’m not so sure), the reality of the horror can’t be doubted. In our own Area of Operations (AO) — which had been long controlled by AQI before we arrived — female suicide bombers terrorized civilians, and AQI fighters would slaughter men, women, and children who opposed them. Their favorite tactics included beheading women on tape while shrieking “Allah Akhbar” like they were scoring goals in a soccer match, shooting infants in the face in front of their mothers, and concealing bombs in the backpacks of mentally handicapped children.
It was the great honor of my life to do the (very) little that a middle-aged JAG could do to help the heroes of 2d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment turn the tide in Diyala Province. While the cost was very, very great, our accomplishments were real. The Iraqis may or may not have liked us (opinions were mixed) or shared our values (the cultural differences were vast), but no child should live under the terror of beheading or execution, and when we left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were free men and women.
It’s the responsibility of those who came home to bear witness to the truth and to rebut the lies of the revisionists. And in that effort one can have few better allies than Professor Hanson.