I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Unlearned Lessons of War

On the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq the Washington Post editorial board (Fred Hiatt)shows us that it has learned few lessons in four years. In the editorial, Lessons of War they admit they were kind of wrong but not really. It's wrong to blame the incompetence of the Bush administration for the debacle but there is really no body else to blame. The Washington Post could have done a better job in the lead up to the invasion but once again not really.
We will never know what might have happened had Saddam Hussein and his sons been left in power. Nor do we know how Iraq will evolve; history's judgment in five years or 10 may look very different than today's. But the picture today is dire, and very different from what we would have hoped or predicted four years ago. The cost in lives, injuries and dislocations, to Americans and Iraqis, has been tragic; the opportunity costs for U.S. leadership globally have been immense. So there is an obligation to reassess. What have we learned?
So what has the Post learned? Not much!
Unquestionably, for example, the experience has shown the risks of preemptive war. Yet it remains true in an era of ruthless, suicidal terrorists and easily smuggled weapons of unimaginable destructive power that not acting also can be dangerous. The risks of war with North Korea or Iran are evident; but the cost of leaving nuclear weapons in the hands of a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or a Kim Jong Il may not become evident until the price has been paid. And while Iraq illustrates the importance of challenging intelligence estimates, there will also be risks in waiting for certainty that may never be achievable.

Similarly, Iraq has shown the disadvantages of acting without full allied support. Multilateralism and U.N. authorization are force multipliers, morally and literally; unilateralism should be a last resort. But ask the victims of genocide in Darfur whether international law and multinational organizations can always be counted upon. And, yes, the past four years have demonstrated the difficulty of seeding democracy in unaccustomed soil. But no American foreign policy will be supported at home or abroad if it does not include as one ambition the spread of freedom.
So while the debacle that is the invasion of Iraq has shown us that a unilateral preemptive war is a really bad idea that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it in the future. And this:
It's tempting to say that if it was wrong to go in, it must be wrong to stay in. But how Iraq evolves will fundamentally shape the region and deeply affect U.S. security. Walking away is likely to make a bad situation worse. A patient, sustained U.S. commitment, with gradually diminishing military forces, could still help Iraq to move in the right direction.
Now I don't know anyone who is making that argument. It's wrong to stay because it's counter productive and wrong to stay not because it was wrong to invade in the first place. And who is saying that "Walking away is likely to make a bad situation worse"? The same idiots who got us into Iraq in the first place. We shouldn't have listened to them then and we certainly shouldn't listen to them now. Why should this man have any credibility left?
"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."
~Willaim Kristol, April 4th, 2003

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