The United States may not be able to stop every homicidal fascist on the planet, but that is hardly an argument for stopping none of them. If the Bush administration had listened to Kennedy and to the millions like him the world over who protested and marched raised their voices against invading Iraq, would the world be a better place today? Leaving Saddam and the Ba’athists in power — free to break and butcher their victims, to support international terrorists, to menace other countries — would have emboldened murderous dictators everywhere. The jihadists of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, celebrating the latest display of American irresolution, would have been spurred to new atrocities. The Arab world would have sunk a little deeper into its nightmare of cruelty and fear. And women’s heads would still be getting nailed to the front doors of Iraqi homes.
Three years into the war, with many Americans wondering if it was a mistake and the media coverage endlessly negative, one voice I miss more than ever is that of Michael Kelly. The first journalist to die while covering the war, Kelly was the editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for The Washington Post. He had covered the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, and in one of his last columns, filed from Kuwait City, he reflected on the coming liberation of Iraq: “Tyranny truly is a horror: an immense, endlessly bloody, endlessly painful, endlessly varied, endless crime against not humanity in the abstract but a lot of humans in the flesh. It is, as Orwell wrote, a jackboot forever stomping on a human face.
“I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications, of America as a liberator. But I do not understand why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuwaiti, or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?”
23 Mar 2006