Friday, September 13, 2013

The Legacy of Iraq: America's Credibility Was Lost Years Ago

By Lauri B. Regan
September 13, 2013
American Thinker

How many times will Americans be told that "the legacy of Iraq" has taken its toll on a war-weary country and stymied our ability to project strength and determination in the Mideast generally and military intervention in Syria specifically?  Since I have yet to hear someone articulate what that legacy is, it is difficult to give credence to the concept that Bush's "wrong war" has intimidated the Obama administration into utter incompetence and complete fecklessness.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal on the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, William Galston posited:

Through [the] fog of confusion [pertaining to the decision to attack Syria], we can discern some large truths. The legacy of Iraq is powerful, in political parties and in the citizenry. Most people would welcome a resolution of the Syrian crisis achieved without American military power.

The third sentence is simply a truism.  We would be hard-pressed to find a significant number of Americans who relish the thought of military intervention when alternative and viable non-violent solutions are available.  When civilized people go to war, they do so because attempts at diplomacy and other means to reach a peaceful resolution have failed.  American military power is the last resort, not the Plan A.  It never has been, including when America went into Iraq under the leadership of George W. Bush.

Galston instead falsely puts forth the notion that his second sentence is a truism (and, in his view, a large one).  But he fails to articulate what the legacy of Iraq is.  It cannot be that people would prefer a resolution to conflict that does not involve military power, since we have already established that that is a trait of civilized nations.  So on what do he and others base this narrative that if it were not for our intervention in Iraq, we would invade Syria with the shock and awe required to bring down Assad?

When the U.S. began the military campaign against Saddam Hussein, America was united.  I recall an impassioned debate with a French friend who is a career U.N. peace-keeper.  He questioned the American government's commitment to see the war through and worried that we would simply dethrone Saddam and exit the battlefield, leaving the country in ruins.  I argued that President Bush would ensure not only that we would win the war, but also (rightly or wrongly) take on the task of nation-building prior to pulling our troops out.  Perhaps Bush was idealistic, but the hopes of bringing democracy to the region proved possible -- until he left office.