Did we invade the wrong country? One of the lessons now being drawn from the 9/11 report is that Iran was the real threat. It had links to al-Qaida, allowed some of the 9/11 hijackers to transit through and is today harboring al-Qaida leaders. The Iraq war critics have a new line of attack: We should have done Iran instead of Iraq.
Well, of course Iran is a threat and a danger. But how exactly would the critics have "done" Iran? Iran is a serious country with a serious army. Compared to Iraq, an invasion of Iran would have been infinitely more costly. Can you imagine these critics, who were shouting "quagmire" and "defeat" when the low-level guerrilla war in Iraq intensified in April, actually supporting war with Iran?
If not war, what then? We know the central foreign policy principle of Bush critics: multilateralism. John Kerry and the Democrats have said it a hundred times: The source of our troubles is Bush's insistence on "going it alone." They promise to "rejoin the community of nations" and "work with our allies."Well, that happens to be exactly what we have been doing on Iran. And the policy is an abject failure....
The result has not been harmless. Time is of the essence, and the runaround that the Tehran Three have gotten from the mullahs has meant that we have lost at least nine months in doing anything to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
The fact is that the war critics have nothing to offer on the single most urgent issue of our time — rogue states in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Iran instead of Iraq? The Iraq critics would have done nothing about either country. There would today be two major Islamic countries sitting on an ocean of oil, supporting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction — instead of one.
Two years ago, there were five countries supporting terror and pursuing WMDs — two junior-leaguers, Libya and Syria, and the axis-of-evil varsity: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The Bush administration has just eliminated two: Iraq, by direct military means, and Libya, by example and intimidation.
There may be no deus ex machina. If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the "Great Satan" will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or pre-emptive strike. Both of which, by the way, are far more likely to succeed with 146,000 American troops and highly sophisticated aircraft standing by just a few miles away — in Iraq.