One of the most reassuring and straightforward writers to emerge since 9-11-01 is historian Victor Davis Hanson. He has his own website and is a regular contributor to National Review Online (Fridays). Today, his mental acuity is on exhibit at The New Republic in this piece. His ultimate point is clear:
A year ago, we waged a brilliant three-week campaign, then mysteriously forgot the source of our success. Military audacity, lethality, unpredictability, imperviousness to cheap criticism, and iron resolve, coupled with the message of freedom, convinced neutrals to join us and enemies not yet conquered to remain in the shadows. But our failure to shoot looters, to arrest early insurrectionists like Sadr, and to subdue cities like Tikrit or Falluja only earned us contempt--and not just from those who would kill us, but from others who would have joined us as well.
The misplaced restraint of the past year is not true morality, but a sort of weird immorality that seeks to avoid ethical censure in the short term--the ever-present, 24-hour pulpit of global television that inflates a half-dozen inadvertent civilian casualties into Dresden and Hiroshima. But, in the long term, such complacency has left more moderate Iraqis to be targeted by ever more emboldened murderers. For their part, American troops have discovered that they are safer on the assault when they can fire first and kill killers, rather than simply patrol and react, hoping their newly armored Humvees and fortified flak vests will deflect projectiles.
. . . In contrast, audacity is a force multiplier. A Sadr in chains or in paradise is worth more, in terms of deterrence, than an entire infantry division.
Read it all. If my link doesn't work, go to Instapundit and use his.