Operation New Dawn, its name suggesting a skin cream or dishwashing liquid, now begins. (What ever happened to the practice of using terms like Torch or Overlord or Dragon to describe military campaigns?) (Andrew Bacevich - Obama Wants Us to Forget Iraq Lessons)
Professor Andrew Bacevich, who lost a son in the Iraq war, has consistently provided readers a clear-eyed view of American foreign policy. In his latest article, he shows how good intentions can reap unintended (and undesirable) outcomes.
Every time we thought we had “solved” something in the Middle East, another problem cropped up. Taking out Mossadegh let the Shah of Iran back in, angering the Islamists, who then took power 20 years later. Taking out Saddam destroyed the firewall protecting the Middle East from the Iranians. Wouldn’t it have been better to let Saddam take Kuwait?
"But he put his own citizens through giant shredders!" The neocons shout.
"But women had relative freedom in Iraq and he brutally squashed all that Sharia nonsense," retort the realists.
See? We put ourselves in the position of weighing the pros and cons of remaking the lives of others. We have no business doing that, most especially when the people don’t want our help.
You can’t help those who don’t want your help
“Nation building” only works when the nation you are building wants to be built, like the European nations after World War II, Japan, and later South Korea. We took a relatively light touch in Central America during the Reagan 80’s, and the situation there is materially better because of our efforts.
Rock-ribbed conservative David Freddoso goes even further than the more liberal Bacevich, declaring that nation building in Iraq was not worth it. I can’t go that far.
We did not achieve “nothing.” No matter how ill-conceived the invasion may have been, troops on the ground made the best of a very bad situation. We took out a dictator, killed a lot of bad guys, and at least gave Iraqis a chance to chart a new course. That in itself is quite an achievement, more so for the US Military (especially the US Army) than for our government or any politician.
I do agree with Freddoso on this...
The question we need to ask is whether we really want to do something like that again. It’s a question that Republican candidates for Congress should be asking themselves right nowAs someone who has been there as a bit player in a supporting role, my answer is no, we should not do something like this again. It's time to pitch the neocons overboard. Hard. On their heads.
Neocons, like progressives, have Utopian dreams of solving problems, ignoring the stubborn fact that in this vale of tears, nothing is ever “solved.”