Rush: Some critics are carping that we?ve won the war, but we?re losing the peace.
Hanson: It?s a constant drumbeat. We?re going to lose in Afghanistan, no, we won Afghanistan. So we?re going to lose in Iraq, no, we won Iraq. So then the next thing is, well, then we?re going to lose the peace. People like Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Norman Mailer really do believe that Afghanistan is no better than it was under the Taliban. We know that?s false. So it?s a way of trying to rationalize a worldview that can?t take into account the revolution that?s happening right before their eyes.
Rush: It?s almost a religious view that does not allow for challenge.
Hanson: It requires 100 percent faith in something that?s not demonstrable, and has proven false almost every day. It represents a strange desire, mostly among elite and highly educated people. They really do believe that they can justify their elite lifestyle by professing these abstract worries about problems all over the world. Just write a fax or go to a march, and then go have latte and you can still feel good that you?re so wealthy.
Rush: You wrote that a gradual improvement in Iraqi opinion will allow us in a year or so to establish a legitimate government. Do you think we only have a year to do that?
Hanson: Well, there are certain forces there that are going to be unleashed. We?re going to have the radical Islamic people, we?re going to have the Europeans, we?re going to have the U.N., we?re going to have the American left. And we have to show tangible results. The mission?s almost surrealistic ? we have to make life better very rapidly and then have to find a way to not take credit for it. If we do that, the message gets out powerfully. But we?re going to have about a year to do it. That?s why I?m very scared that somebody will be stupid and allow the French or the Germans or the U.N. in. We could just imagine a Frenchman on TV saying of a detainee, ?Who is to say that he?s a Ba?athist murderer, when an F-16 pilot may be just as culpable?? We?ll have that nonsense if we let the U.N. in.
Rush: The president has said that he envisions a role for the U.N. in Iraq, which sounds like a role of distribution. They?re going to pass out food and medicine. I know Tony Blair is pressuring him for a bigger involvement. Do you have reason to doubt that Bush might cave?
Hanson: I don?t other than let the UN feed people. But I don?t think any of us realize the pressure he?s under. When you unleash the Washington Post, the New York Times, the State Department, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the European Union, NATO and the Atlantic bureaucracy, it?s very hard for him to withstand that. All I can say is that I don?t know where he came from, but he?s a man whose family was part of that Eastern establishment.
And for some reason, he made a conscious choice to be skeptical of the cultural elite, even though he?s an Ivy League graduate. He wanted to identify with Texas. He wanted to identify with Middle America. It?s something in his makeup. He has a gut instinctive distrust of these people who may be highly intelligent and educated, but they have absolutely no common sense. That?s rare for a person who came out of that world, to have that grasp of reality and that moral fortitude.
I can?t think of a more difficult time to wage war, given the political and domestic ramifications. And yet, where do these people like Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush and Wolfowitz come from? I can imagine that we might have had one of them; but we have all of them. And that?s what?s been astounding: The leadership.
Rush: What if we don?t find any weapons of mass destruction? What is the political ramification? Even though there?s great liberation to celebrate, what if he?s gotten them out of there, if they?ve been hidden, what if we don?t find them?
Hanson: Yes, I think that will be more difficult. But I think that it?s almost like taking a hammer and hitting a vase so many times that it finally cracks. There?s been so many reports, chemical weapons suits, atropine, high radiation levels, that we?re starting to uncover the skeleton of this corpse. I think that even if you don?t find barrels and barrels, most people are going to get the picture that he had a lot of WMD, and they?ve either been destroyed or they?re in Syria or they are widely dispersed in precursor forms. We have no idea in the West the past capital and energy and manpower involved in creating these weapons and hiding them. So I think we?re going to find some things in the next month or so, I really do.
Rush: I know we can define victory with the fate of Saddam Hussein still being a mystery. But will the Iraqi people themselves always be worried that Saddam is operating from some distant location, directing Ba?athist survivors to continue to seek revenge?
Hanson: Just as Germans were afraid about Hitler, I suppose. But I think that each day it?s sort of like a balance, and each day the weight starts to work in our favor that they?re going to arrest more and more Ba?athists who really have nowhere to go or hide.
Rush: Look, I appreciate your time. This has been fascinating, worth a college semester.
Hanson: Thanks, Rush, I enjoy it, I?m a big fan of yours.
Rush: By the way, I have to ask you before you go, in that show on the Spartans, who was the figure in that series sort of a similar character and personality to Bill Clinton of that day?
Hanson: Ah, Alcibiades no doubt.
Rush: That?s right, kept changing his alliances and getting away with it.
Hanson: He did. It was almost uncanny, because he was a triangulator. He started at Athens and he went to Sparta, then he went to Persia, then back to Athens. And he triangulated all three of them. But then, when he was just about the age of Bill Clinton, in his mid-40s, it all blew up, and he was wasted by women, wasted by duplicity and lying, wasted by drink and late hours and then he ended up being irrelevant before passing on. It was a great tragedy, because he had natural ability, but he also had no character.
Rush: (Laughs) Fascinating. I hope to meet you some time, Dr. Hanson. But I read you religiously. Whenever I can find you, National Review online and elsewhere. I really appreciate your time.
Hanson: Thanks, Rush, nice talking to you.
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