You’d never know it, given Republicans’ churlish silence and unseemly sniping, but the president and the vice president have stumbled and bumbled their way to an acceptable ending to the war that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney so recklessly started. It was a magnificent miscalculation that Obama warned in 2002 was “a dumb war.”The real tragedy is that in 2008 Americans voted to change policies but got a Bush "lite" in Obama. Obama promised to get out of the war, stop torture, and get out of Guantanamo. Once in office he "surged" in Afghanistan and dragged his feet on all these commitments. He may have stopped torturing prisoners, but he has upped the ante with a lot more drone-based killings. Rather than arrest Osama Bin Laden he sent in a killer elite to "terminate" rather than capture. There is something indescribably sinister in a policy of death rather than justice.
Funnily enough, Obama has found it easier to wrap up Bush’s foreign policy blunders than his domestic ones.
Vice President Joseph Biden spent so many hundreds of hours hashing things out with Iraqi officials that he knew the names of their grandchildren — just as Bill Clinton could reel off street names during the peace effort in Northern Ireland.
In the painful calculation of what’s “good enough,” as we end our two attenuated wars, the White House sees it this way on Iraq: The baby is born. The gestation period couldn’t be 18 years; eight years was bad enough. The midwife had to leave.
The spectacular error that Bush, Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld made was feeling we needed a post-9/11 demonstration of war to prove our toughness. If they had merely pushed along the Arab Spring, they could have saved a trillion dollars and the lives of 4,500 American troops.
It would have been more of a boon to our national security to finish off the Afghanistan mission and kill Osama bin Laden sooner. Instead, the Bush team let itself get distracted with nation-building in Iraq when our own nation was falling apart, and President Obama ended up surging and withdrawing in Afghanistan at the same time, which made no sense.
Before W. tried to outdo his daddy, we were a country that usually had to take a punch before we went to war. We didn’t unilaterally start wars.
In her new memoir, Condoleezza Rice has a sentence so stunningly lame it makes you want to scream — or cry. “The fact is,” she writes, “we invaded Iraq because we believed we had run out of other options.”
I’m not a National Security Council adviser, but I can think of about a hundred other options we had with Saddam.
At least Condi admits that one of the inflated and improvised rationales for war wasn’t true: “We did not go to Iraq to bring democracy any more than Roosevelt went to war against Hitler to democratize Germany, though that became American policy once the Nazis were defeated.”
Saturday, December 17, 2011
A Summary of America's "Effort" In Iraq
Here is a bit from an opinion piece in the NY Times by Maureen Dowd that nails down the idiocy of US policy in Iraq: