As the end of the year always occasions retrospectives, prospectives and resolutions, it might be a worthwhile exercise to consider our experiences with Iraq as a guide to what might happen with Iran, especially since Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's saber rattling has reached a fever pitch.
While comparisons to Hitler (and the world's reaction to him) are painfully trite anymore, it's hard not to notice parallels between Hitler and his apologists and Ahmadinejad and the stubborn appeasers today.
We used to review the world's response to Hitler, uniformly condemn his Neville Chamberlain appeasers and smugly assure ourselves that we would never again ignore such clear signs of malignant aggression. "Never again" would we tolerate the type of infernal anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust.
But the Iranian president is a professed anti-Semite dedicated to exterminating Jews, he's a devout enemy of the West and freedom, and is quite unapologetically clear about his sinister aims concerning Israel and America, though he mostly pretends he is pursuing nuclear technology for legitimate reasons.
Yet liberals in the State Department and elsewhere mostly in the Democratic Party still don't seem to get it. They can't quite get their arms around the reality that unappeasable evil exists in the world.
They believe we can reason with despots, negotiate with terrorists and tame tyrants through tepid sanctions. Even when Ahmadinejad mocks the sanctions and defiantly pronounces he is proceeding on course, full speed ahead, the appeasers refuse to yield to their lying ears.
How can this nation possibly consider turning over the reins to politicians with such a recklessly misguided mindset? How can it consider giving the Democratic Party control over both the legislative and executive branches in 2008, notwithstanding the Republicans' regrettable performance on domestic spending and immigration?
If we're smart, we'll treat the Democrats' approach to Iraq as instructive on how they would approach Iran and other aspects of the war on terror and how they can't be trusted with national security.
Democrats would have us believe they are bullish on national security and as tough on terror as conservative hawks. They tell us they are tough, but "smart," which is a clever rhetorical device to disguise their consistent softness on terror opposing all the tools to prosecute the war and their absence of a plan on Iraq, other than empty criticism.
But why not? Through the miracle of modern propaganda, they have avoided accountability both for opposing the war in Iraq and supporting it. Who says they can't have it both ways?
Remember that Democrats were the last to believe (and probably never did believe) we should take action against Saddam Hussein. They opposed the war until the last minute, when they were coerced, through public opinion, to support the war resolution.
It's easy to dismiss their appeasement mindset now since we haven't confirmed Saddam had new stockpiles of WMD and because we've had so much difficulty in the post-regime-change phase of the war. But don't forget that Democrats were initially opposed to the war even when they were thoroughly convinced Saddam had WMD and was pursuing more.
But after supporting the war, they didn't have the character to stand by their decision once things started going badly, or at least when they realized they could make political hay by reneging on their decision to support the war.
That's when they began their lies about Bush's alleged WMD lies. They were duped, they say, into supporting the war. But forget the alleged lie issue for a moment. What their statements imply is that they would have happily supported the war had we been correct (and we still might have been) that Saddam had WMD.
But haven't they also told us, in effect, that they wouldn't have supported the war no matter what we believed about WMD because their clairvoyance revealed to them we would be greeted not as liberators, but occupiers, and that the situation would deteriorate into civil war because of sectarian conflict?
Just going on the Democrats' words alone, then, we find they opposed the war when the evidence was clear Saddam was a WMD-wielding global menace, and they supported the war when the evidence was clear Saddam was a WMD-wielding global menace. They opposed the war believing we would be greeted as occupiers, not liberators, and they supported the war believing we would be greeted as occupiers, not liberators.
Through the Democrats' approach to Iraq and the war on terror generally, we know they are untrustworthy, unreliable and ill equipped to guide the ship of state through wartime waters. Even if they weren't duplicitous, they simply cannot grasp the evil nature of our enemy.
Among the many lessons we learn from Iraq, these should be at the top of the list.