The Spectacle Blog

Iraq Anniversary Wrap-Up

By on 3.22.13 | 8:02AM

Below are a number of recent items occasioned by the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War. 

Max Boot, Commentary. "The Future of Nation Building."

There are two essential lessons one can draw from the Iraq War: either that we should never get mired in counterinsurgency or “nation-building” operations in the future or that, if we do get involved, we should do a better job of achieving our objectives.

Editoral Board, New York Times. "Ten Years After."

[N]one of the Bush administration’s war architects have been called to account for their mistakes, and even now, many are invited to speak on policy issues as if they were not responsible for one of the worst strategic blunders in American foreign policy.

Ezra Klein, Bloomberg. "Mistakes, Excuses, and Painful Lessons from the Iraq War."

[A]t the core of my support for the war was an analytical failure I think about often: Rather than looking at the war that was actually being sold, I’d invented my own Iraq war to support--an Iraq war with different aims, promoted by different people, conceptualized in a different way and bearing little resemblance to the project proposed by the Bush administration.

Andrew Bavevich, Harper's. "A Letter to Paul Wolfowitz."

With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America’s for the taking. What others saw as an option you, Paul, saw as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to seize, for its own good as well as for the world’s.

James Wolcott. Vanity Fair. "The Waning of the War Whores."

Kristol may still sport his Cheshire cat grin and Victor Davis Hanson may still lay down the stentorian drumbeat at NRO, but the neocon heyday is done and good riddance. Frank Gaffney, a familiar face in the run up to war and after, is now reduced to running around with the likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, waving his hands up in the air about the menace of jihadism, and the perfect new face of War Party militance--Allen West--lost his House seat and has signed on to do a National Review cruise, which is equivalent to a has-been actor getting a guest spot on Love Boat.

David Frum. The Daily Beast. "The Speechwriter."

I was less impressed by [Ahmed] Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those “others” was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought.

Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian. "David Frum, the Iraq War, and oil."

Talk about self-serving revisionism: to distance himself from neocon designs on Iraq, Frum claims that he "was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration". But, as Ruben Bolling just reminded me, Frum wrote a long and angry defense of Chalabi in 2004 at National Review, hailing him as "one of the very few genuine liberal democrats to be found at the head of any substantial political organization anywhere in the Arab world", and ended with this proclamation: "Compared to anybody [sic] other possible leader of Iraq – compared to just about every other political leader in the Arab world – the imperfect Ahmed Chalabi is nonetheless a James bleeping Madison."

Daniel McCarthy, The American Conservative. "The GOP's Vietnam."

Republicans split over Bush’s wars as deeply as Democrats once split over Vietnam. The raw numbers aren’t similar—the antiwar right is not as numerous as the antiwar left once was—but the philosophical depth of the divide is as great. And it’s a generation gap. Boomer Republicans are still refighting old wars—Benghazi is the new Khe Sanh, and they’ve adopted Israel not only as avatar of the lost South Vietnam but as symbol of the Providential favor and military virtue our nation lost in the 1960s. Yet even the younger evangelicals—let alone Ron Paul’s youthful supporters and the neo-traditionalist “crunchy cons”—don’t buy it.

Pat Buchanan, Townhall (syndicated). "Was Iraq Worth It?"

We are not known as a reflective people. But a question has to weigh upon us. If Saddam had no WMD, had no role in 9/11, did not attack us, did not threaten us, and did not want war with us, was our unprovoked attack on that country a truly just and moral war?

What makes the question more than academic is that the tub-thumpers for war on Iraq a decade ago are now clamoring for war on Iran. Goal: Strip Iran of weapons of mass destruction all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran does not have and has no program to build.

Despite my efforts to provide a balanced selection, most of these pieces are strongly anti-Iraq, a perspective that (I must admit) I share.

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