Ed Driscoll

'What about Our Hearts and Minds?'

As “Operation Odyssey Dawn”* gets under way, “it’s exactly 8 years to the day that GW Bush launched war in Iraq. Amazing,” Christine Delargy of CBS tweets; Jim Hoft finds further comparisons between Obama and the president whose policies he once ran in opposition to.

(One big difference: regime change appears to be much more…loosely defined this time around. Update: Or, maybe not.)

Michael Totten writes in the New York Post, “liberals fear and loathe the very idea of another Iraq, which to them is ‘Vietnam’ conjugated in Arabic — and many conservatives are hardly more willing to risk American treasure and lives for people who aren’t necessarily our friends, who may well take shots at us after they’re liberated and who might build a new aggressive regime of their own:”

Iraqis didn’t have to attack us after we toppled Saddam Hussein. Contrary to what some seem to believe, guerrilla warfare and terrorism weren’t the only options available. The Kurds in Northern Iraq certainly didn’t shoot at us — they like us and welcomed us. They are some of the most pro-American people on earth. Not one person in their autonomous region ever attacked US forces. Only Arabs in central and southern Iraq thought a violent insurgency was the right way to proceed.

The White House, Leon Wieseltier wrote in The New Republic a couple of days ago, “is so haunted by past Arab anger at American action in the Middle East that it cannot recognize present Arab anger at American inaction in the Middle East.” I think he’s right — but it’s not President Obama’s fault that the United States is damned in the Arab Middle East if it acts and damned if it doesn’t.

In the Arab world, the United States is just damned. This was true before Obama was president, and it will remain true after Obama is gone, no matter what he decides to do or not do.

Americans fret constantly about whether or not we’re doing the right thing to win the hearts and minds of the Arabs. That’s one reason Obama was elected (though I can’t help but wonder how many Libyans wish John McCain were in the White House right now). This may be a good time for Arab leaders and opinion makers to ask themselves what they can do to win over the hearts and minds of Americans.

Don’t miss Michael’s new book, The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, the Rise of Hezbollah, and the Iranian War Against Israel, due out early next month.

* Heh.