Alan Caruba / Sep 12, 2008

Wars are won and lost by the calculations made by those that start them. The Japanese Empire destroyed itself when it attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. By contrast, the Vietnamese War was lost because President Lyndon B. Johnson never understood that it was, first, a war of liberation from colonial France and, second, a civil war. Within the LBJ White House and over at the CIA, no one had any realistic idea of who they were fighting.

Iraq has been deemed the wrong war in the wrong place by people who, decades hence, will be deemed very wrong in their judgment. One of its critics, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, said not long ago, The war is lost. Hes wrong. Other spineless Democrats are wrong.

Other critics pontificate that all weve done is allow an Iranian puppet government to take over Iraq, but they underestimate the nationalism that Iraqis feel and the long lingering memories of the losses they had when Saddam Hussein waged war first against Iran, then against Kuwait, and finally produced not one, but two bloodlettings as Americans with allied help, ultimately rid them of their pathological despot.

And, of course, that great military leader, Sen. Barack Obama, who first denied the surge worked and then declared it did, keeps insisting that we should have first taken care of business in Afghanistan. What this ignores is that Iraq became the perfect killing ground, luring in wannabe jihadists from all over and sending their sorry butts to Hell.

The result is that al Qaeda, who started this war by attacking our peacekeepers in Beirut in the 1980s, blowing up our embassies in the 1990s, and finally, attacking our homeland to destroy the Twin Towers and taking lives at the Pentagon as well, is seriously degraded. Angry letters pass between their raggedy leadership complaining of poor results and low morale.

These days U.S. drones, loaded with hellfire missiles, are systematically killing those al Qaeda leaders who thought they had the perfect hiding place along Pakistans northern border, only to be disabused of that further miscalculation as they die.

Throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, al Qaeda and other jihadists are being hunted and killed.

Bin Laden may be alive but it no longer matters. Throughout the Middle East and even in the heart of the most orthodox practice of Islam, in Saudi Arabia, opinions are shifting and the tides of social change are on the move. In a decade or two they will shed their seventh century outlook and wonder that they were ever so backward and barbaric.

For that you can thank President George W. Bush and the Neocons who understood the lessons of history, who understood that 9/11 had to be dealt with by punishing the enemy, Islamofascism, until the price for it was too harsh to pay.

The Muslims have seen with their own eyes that bloodshed leads to nothing but destruction, devastation, isolation, and persecution. So said Saudi liberal, Salah Al-Rashid on the website Elaph.

What lessons have Muslims drawn from Bin Ladens attack on 9/11? Al-Rashid said that Muslims now understand they must pursue a culture of peace and eschewing bloody wars and conflicts. If 9/11 was a wakeup call to Americans that we have real enemies in the world, it brought Saudi and other Muslims to their senses and awoken them from their slumbers

In an article in the Saudi daily, Al-Watan, Ali Sad Al-Mussa, a journalist and a lecturer at King Khaled University in Abha, wrote that 9/11 was a watershed moment between the era of Islamist-led Saudi public discourse and what he deemed the modern era a mere seven years later!

The 45 minutes between 8:45 AM and 9:30 AM on September 11, 2001 were unlike any other 45 minutes in the modern history of humankind, wrote Al-Mussa. These minutes made it impossible for the world to revert to its former state He meant, of course, his world, the Saudi world, the world of the Middle East, trapped in the seventh century demand for endless aggression against any part of the world that did not accept Islam.

Osama bin Laden has destroyed the thing he treasured most, orthodox Islam as practiced in his homeland of Saudi Arabia. He destroyed the myth that Muslims could and would come together to fight the infidel and would triumph.

The real triumph has been the rise of Western civilization, free of the restraints of orthodox Islam. The real victory will be the realization that the only future Saudis, Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians, and all others in the Middle East must embrace is one of toleration and of modernization. The alternative is death and destruction.

It took an American war to make that happen! It took the vision of men in the White House to see it and the courage to pursue the war despite those who declared it wrong or lost.

It wasnt the first time American warriors went to the Middle East to put an end to piracy, hostage taking, and the violence and death that Islam venerates. It wont be the last. Keep your eye on Iran, home to Islamists who have not yet learned that lesson.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, He blogs daily at

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