In response to Bill Kristol's editorial in the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, former ambassador, deputy secretary of Defense and World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz sends in the following note:
Thanks for your excellent editorial about the “Party of Freedom,” but I have one minor quibble. Libya, by my count, is not “America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation,” but at least the seventh: Kuwait– February 1991, Northern Iraq - April 1991, Bosnia – 1995, Kosovo – 1999, Afghanistan – 2001 and Iraq – 2003. As you point out, we acted in our own interests (to include our interest in stopping crimes against humanity in the Balkans and in Northern Iraq), but we went to war not against Muslims but rather against rulers (some of whom were Muslims themselves) who were oppressing Muslims.
A complete list should also include the U.S. intervention in Somalia in 1992 – which rescued tens of thousands of Somali Muslims (estimates at the time were around 200,000) from imminent starvation – and the assistance provided by the U.S. military to Indonesia in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2004, when tens of thousands of people in Aceh would have been stranded without food or medicine were it not for American assistance.
One might also add – to the credit of our British allies – the intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000 that ended a horrible civil war in that predominantly Muslim country, a war instigated by the Qaddafi-trained and supported killer Foday Sankoh.
One can debate whether these actions were worth the cost – even humanitarian interventions are expensive – and whether they were conducted well. But American officials, and especially the President, should emphatically reject the notion that America has been at war against Muslims when we have so often been the ones coming to their aid.
Even Bush Administration officials did not make this point strongly enough or often enough. Obama would certainly not have to say that the Iraq War was worth the cost in order to acknowledge that at least its purpose was liberate a Muslim population from a tyrant. Particularly coming from him, that point could really resonate among the world’s Muslims.