Teddy Roosevelt & Iraq

While Teddy Roosevelt was a social reformer, he was no dove on foreign policy.  As Assistant Secretary of the US Navy, TR was a strong voice for preemptive war against Spain in 1898. Then he backed up that rhetoric by resigning and raising the Rough Rider Regiment and posthumously winning the Medal of Honor in Cuba on the San Juan Hill.  TR won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russian Japanese War, and the Pulitzer Prize for his articulate communication skills.

TR said leaders have three choices: The right choice, the wrong choice, with the worst choice being NO choice.  During the first Gulf War with the whole world united against Saddam, just two more days of that 100 hour ground war would have destroyed the balance of the so called elite Iraqi Army divisions and probably eliminated the need for the current Iraq War.

When post 9-11 intelligence (from almost all major agencies) indicated Iraqi connections with al Qaeda and WMD (also UN food for oil funding terrorism), it was the right choice to invade Iraq. It was the wrong choice to use insufficient forces to secure the occupation, and hindsight indicates that disarming the lower ranks of the Iraqi Army was a wrong choice.  Leaving Iraq before it is stabilized would also be a wrong choice creating a vacuum for terrorism and requiring another US led coalition to return in a few years.

In my opinion, the strategic War of Terrorism will eventually isolate, undermine and marginalize an Iranian theocracy which for over 30 years has been the major sponsor of Middle East terrorism. The tactical battles will be low intensity and long term using mostly Special Forces against fanatical cells. Then moderate Muslim governments can control extremists while creating regional examples of opportunity and prosperity.  Free people have never liked protracted (Revolutionary, Civil, etc.) wars.   While still leading the cause to save Western Civilization against fascism, Winston Churchill was voted from power in 1945 (just weeks after VE Day!).

Teddy Roosevelt endured a great deal of personal tragedy. He lost his first wife and his mother only hours apart. Although he received the highest percentage of any 3rd party, the Bull Moose candidate split the GOP vote and allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to become President in 1916. Then a few years later, TR’s youngest son Quentin was killed as a pilot flying a mission in WW I.  After each tragedy, TR would depart on a physically demanding and often lonely challenge such as cattle ranching in Western North Dakota in the late 1800’s, big game hunting in Africa, and exploring a South American river.  (River of No Return)

It would be more productive for critics of the current Iraq policy to outline specific choices with the always associated unintended consequence rather than promote NO choices.   Finally, let’s focus on the 2008 Presidential candidates with the most TR qualities.

Mark Lindberg

Mountain View, CA

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious victories, even though checkered with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits that neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in that gray twilight that knows neither victory or defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt