Monday, February 9, 2009

Andrew Sullivan: Rescuing America From the Trap

Andrew Sullivan has a great retrospective of his thoughts on the Iraq War and what it means for the future in his Atlantic Monthly blog:

But can we be real for a second? Am I really very "quietly" "hoping" that the US is "defeated"? For starters, what on earth can this mean at this point? Since we deposed Saddam and the WMD threat was a chimera and some kind of ramshackle unstable government has emerged, I'd say the original goals have been met if at a cost - $2 trillion? $3 trillion? Tehran's regional ascendancy? America's moral standing? 140,000 troops still in the country after six years - nowhere near what was planned, promised or envisaged. Getting out now with as little further damage as possible is, I would have thought, a universal goal - especially when the US is effectively bankrupt. I don't think of it as a "defeat" not to be occupying countries no one would have dreamed of occupying only nine years ago. And I certainly believe and have stated countless times that the soldiers and generals who helped do this deserve our immense gratitude and support.


The reason for my worry can best be described by a series of questions. Why should the US be permanently militarily rooted in a region as thorny and as fraught with danger as Iraq - with permanent bases in a deeply Muslim country and troop levels of well over 100,000 for the foreseeable future? Isn't this a hostage to fortune? Have we not learned from the British imperial experience? Are we really contemplating an America that is not just financing tens of thousands of troops in Japan and Germany for the indefinite future, but also in Afghanistan and Iraq, two of the most unpredictable an unstable "countries" outside Africa on the planet - and the graveyard of countless empires before? My core judgment is no. And after the past eight years, it seems to me that the benefit of the doubt should rest with those of us who want to leave the place as swiftly as possible, with as minimal a presence going forward as is responsible.

Read the whole thing. Andrew Sullivan's best quality as an opinion maker is to asses and re-asses his belief system. Building up to the war and during the early phase, he was a leading advocate of the intervention. He is one of the higher profile mind changers. As his banner Orwell quote says: "To see what it in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." The war wasn't what we thought it would be. It's not treasonous to question this. For the good of the country, it should be wrapped up as soon as possible.

These days Sullivan is one of the loudest Obama cheerleaders. It will be interesting if a few years down the road, we'll have another "I was wrong" introspective in that area.


  1. Literally everything about the Iraq War has either been wrong or a lie. I just read a news story that Sen. Leahy wants a truth commission to investigate the Bush administration.
    I also remember back when Pat Buchanan had the guts to go against the war. He made a great point in regards to the no-fly zone. There were over 20,000 US sorties flown over the no-fly zone, and Saddam never messed with one of them. Buchanan also made a clear statement that this was war of imperialism.
    I guess the way everything has been run in Iraq, the might as well screw up the withdrawal as well.

  2. It's true Buchanan didn't support the invasion, but when he worked for Nixon he supported the Vietnam war. A war which was an outright extension of failed French imperialism.