At Least VDH Won't Cut & Run

The most disturbing discovery relating to Iraq, for my money, has not been French perfidy, American mistakes or Democratic demagoguery. It's how quickly the loudest voices in favor of Iraq have lost heart. Whatever else might be said pro and con the justice or wisdom of this war in itself, it's certainly immoral to start a war you don't have the stomach to win. VDH lets 'em have it, in his gentlemanly way of course. He offers three important reasons for his conclusion:
long after the present furor over Iraq dies down, the idea of trying to help democratic reformers fight terrorists, and to distance America from failed regimes antithetical to our values simply will not go away. That tough idealism will stay --because, finally, it is the only right and smart thing to do.
I won't cite the whole thing, but his first argument is dearest to my heart. The "Bush doctrine" calls for a "clean" foreign policy; no more playing realist-footsy with horrible men, doing or at least tolerating evil that good may come:

The United States had been far too friendly with atrocious regimes in the Middle East. And when bloodletting inevitably broke out, either internally or between aggressive regimes, too often we cynically played one side off the other. Or we backed repugnant insurgents, with little thought of the "blowback" that would result. We outsourced sophisticated arms and training to radical Islamists fighting against the Soviet-backed Afghan government. We hoped the murderous Saddam might check the murderous Iranian theocracy -- and then again sold arms to the mullahs during the Iran-Contra affair. We breezily called for an uprising of Shi'ites and Kurds only to abandon them to be slaughtered by Saddam after the first Gulf war. We cynically gave the Mubarak dynasty of Egypt billions in protection money to behave.

While we thought we were achieving short-term expediency, American policy only increased long-term instability by not pressuring these tyrants to reform failed governments.

Not to mention, this is in no small part "why they hate us." The Bush doctrine is an inherently more moral approach; may he and we find the guts to stick with it.