Jen, I too was impressed with Bret Stephens’s powerful column on Iraq – and grateful that he quoted the late Michael Kelly. I have written about Mike before. He wrote so well on so many topics, from politics to his family to matters of war and peace. On the matter of Iraq and the tyranny of Saddam, these words are worth recalling as well:
I covered the Gulf War as a reporter, and it was this experience, later compounded by what I saw reporting in Bosnia, that convinced me of the moral imperative, sometimes, for war.
In liberated Kuwait City, one vast crime scene, I toured the morgue on day and inspected torture and murder victims left behind by the departing Iraqis. “The corpse in drawer 3… belonged to a young man,” I later wrote. “When he was alive, he had been beaten from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head, and every inch of his skin was covered with purple-and-black bruises…. The man in drawer 12 had been burned to death with some flammable liquid…. Corpses 18 and 19… belonged to the brothers Abbas… the eyeballs of the elder of the Abbas brothers had been removed. The sockets were bloody holes.”
That was the beginning of the making of me as at least an honorary chicken hawk. After that, I never again could stand the arguments of those who sat in the luxury of safety – “in advocating nonresistance behind the guns of the American Fleet,” as George Orwell wrote of World War II pacifists – and held that the moral course was, in crimes against humanity as in crimes on the street corner: Better not to get involved, dear.
The last two sentences of Bret’s column are these:
I still miss Kelly. Sunday’s election was his vindication, too.
So do I. And yes it was.