Thursday, September 16, 2004

Iraq and the Failure of the Intellectuals

It now appears abundantly clear that the invasion of Iraq has proven to be a catastrophe--both for the Iraqi people and those in the West who encouraged it. Many military experts now think that the US has fallen into a quagmire more treacherous and harder to escape than Vietnam.

"I see no exit," said Record. "We've been down that road before. It's called Vietnamisation. The idea that we're going to have an Iraqi force trained to defeat an enemy we can't defeat stretches the imagination. They will be tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier. In fact, we had more time and money in state building in Vietnam than in Iraq."

General Odom said: "This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."

The present state of affairs is particulalrly embarrassing--as some have now poignantly acknowledged-- for those 2002ers, who proposed war on humanitarian grounds. The 2002ers made a wager that the removal of Saddam Hussein would outweigh in benefits the risks and costs of Iraq descending into a civil war. The 2002ers (myself included) got the wager wrong. George Bush and the incompetent, arrogant ideologues in the Defense Department have made horses asses out of the intellectuals and journalists, many of them liberals, who supported the war. It would, I think, be helpful, if the 2002ers went back over their reasoning back then, and identified the factors that led them so astray.

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