Friday, November 21, 2008

Blaming Bush

Daniel Larison, who doesn't much like me, is nevertheless correct in saying that the Bush administration deserves the blame for its failures, including the "calamitous" decision to invade Iraq. It is not "Bush Derangment Syndrome" to say that the Iraq invasion was a very bad idea, or to say that, if it was a good idea, the execution was blundered. And if you don't blame the Commander in Chief for a disastrous military adventure . . . well, whatever happened to, "The Buck Stops Here?"

In the run-up to the war, my opinion was like that of Nicias toward the Sicilian expedition, feeling that the Alcibiades-like arguments offered for the invasion were false and that the policy was unwise. But, like Nicias, I felt that if the U.S. did invade (and by Labor Day 2002, that decision had clearly already been made) victory was the only acceptable outcome. In other words, "Let's win this ill-advised blunder of a war!"

No nation has ever benefitted from military defeat, and I draw a bright line between (a) the I-told-you-so recriminations of those who wisely opposed the invasion before it began, and (b) the dishonorable glee of those who don't even bother to disguise their desire for American defeat.

America is too big, too rich and too powerful to safely disarm. We cannot assume the sort of inert, cowardly pacifism that dominated England in the 1920s and '30s without inviting aggression. The alternative to American strength is not "world peace," but rather the removal of any meaningful constraint on the imperial appetites of America's enemies.

That the Bush administration misused American strength is, I think, inarguable. But let us not obscure the distinction between criticizing bad policy and wishing ill to one's own nation. Hatred of neoconservatism, I fear, has blinded some of my friends to the importance of this distinction. Yes, the disaster in Iraq has discredited neoconservative foreign policy, but the discrediting of bad philosophy is not a sufficient cause to celebrate American military defeat.

I think it unlikely that any U.S. administration will ever again undertake a foreign adventure with as little caution as the Bush administration undertook the invasion of Iraq. But I still want our troops to achieve victory in Iraq.

(Cue outraged demands that I define "victory.")


  1. I won't ask you to define victory, but I will point out that that ties in to the importance of a media strategy. If you let others define victory for you, you'll NEVER win.

  2. "and I draw a bright line between (a) the I-told-you-so recriminations of those who wisely opposed the invasion before it began, and (b) the dishonorable glee of those who don't even bother to disguise their desire for American defeat."

    Yet your side spent the last 7 years conflating the two.
    It is really is remarkable to see how quick Bush supporters are now throwing him under the bus.I guess WE were right after all, and now Cons are willing to admit it.I'm not gloating, I'm just pointing out that silly slogans like "Bush Derangement Syndrome" have really come back to bite you all in the ass.You might want to rethink your "Palin Derangement Syndrome" claptrap.

  3. My view was always that IF it was decided that Saddam, oil revenue and a million man army with full equipment was too destablizing, and removal was necessary, there was a low cost alternative.

    Do the 'Shock and Awe' stuff, round up the citizens, move them away from military infrastructure, saturation bomb said intrastructure into scrap, and then bring all the surviving military, civil and legal Sunnis together, say here's the keys, we want Saddam, his sons and all his cabinet's heads, we want a lot more freedoms for citizens, and if we don't think you are trying hard enough, we'll send in the B-52's for a week or so.

    Cost would be negligible, yer out in a couple of months, none of the neighbors would be too upset, life would have gone on.

    Afganistan is another matter. Unless you are willing to kill everyone over 5 years old and feed and educate the rest for 15 years, while rebuilding the infrastructure, you are going to lose. These people LIKE living in a medieval shithole.

    My option #1 would be to offer it to China as a gift, even throw in some air cover and logistics. China has lots of experience dealing with recalcitrant peoples.

    We could even offer a big supply of 3/4 ton and up pickups for a real good price right now.

  4. Well, Limbaugh will run you off the Conservative reservation--whether you're right or wrong.

    But you're right...

  5. I wonder how the left would be about President Bush if he actually GOVERNED like a conservative?