Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fouad Ajami on the Aftermath of Iraq

See what he has to say. Here is a bit of it:
First, look at the map.  To Iraq's east lies Iran and a border of several hundred miles.  Had we kept the residual presence in Iraq we would have had a listening station on Iran's border.  The Iranians knew this, and that was why they were eager to push us out.  The Iraqis were more than willing to have us stay without advertising it.  We squandered that possible advantage.  The Iranians would have had to think things over if we were so close to them and right on their border.  

1 comment:

Eric said...

Excerpt from :

From the 16JAN09 Washington Post article, A Farewell Warning On Iraq, by David Ignatius:
The key to success in Iraq, insists Crocker, was the psychological impact of Bush's decision to add troops. "In the teeth of ferociously negative popular opinion, in the face of a lot of well-reasoned advice to the contrary, he said he was going forward, not backward."

Bush's decision rocked America's adversaries, says Crocker: "The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, 'Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won't have the stomach to stick it out.' That assumption was challenged by the surge."

At the end of his presidency, Bush handed OIF to President Obama as a hard-won turnaround success to build upon. At that point, our relationship with strategically critical Iraq could have developed as a long-term partnership, like Germany, Japan, or South Korea, where American soldiers still serve. But Obama officials apparently predetermined OIF was a failure, and the result was an irresponsible exit from Iraq. Imagine President Eisenhower fumbling away our hard-won position in Asia or Europe after taking over from President Truman.

The 20MAR13 New York Times article, Seeking Lessons from Iraq. But Which Ones?, by David Sanger shows that misconceptions about the Iraq mission have handicapped policymakers in the Obama administration. Here's the (truncated) e-mail I sent to David Sanger via the NY Times website:
Your article reveals that misconceptions about Operation Iraqi Freedom have confused policymakers in the Obama administration. Their chief operating premise seems to be the dogma that OIF was wrong, while their chief animating principle seems to be to avoid an OIF-type situation at all costs. This bias has thrown Obama's foreign policy into disarray. In August 2004, Tom Junod wrote a compelling piece on President Bush and Iraq for Esquire magazine titled, The Case for George W. Bush i.e., what if he's right?. With the confusion of Obama's foreign policy evident, I believe it's time to revisit Junod's question: What if President Bush was right?

Certainly, OIF was not executed perfectly, but we have never executed a war perfectly. The histories of each of our "good" wars are consistent in containing episodes of downright catastrophe. Yet in all our "good" wars we learned and evolved. A similar developmental curve played out for the US in Iraq. Moreover, the Obama officials' bias against our post-Saddam peace operations runs against our historical mode of war. As we learned in elementary school, American post-war care of our defeated enemies distinguished our leadership after World War 2 from our allies' mistakes after World War 1. American post-war occupation has historically included a long-term presence and comprehensive investment in reconstruction. In fact, the uniformed successors of American military occupiers continue to serve today in Asia and Europe.

The ahistorical treatment of OIF has confused American foreign policy at a critical time. In order to set right American foreign policy, I believe we need to go back and correct the origin story of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

* MM, if you're interested, I'd like to get your feedback on my thoughts in the post.