Sunday op-ed: “We can’t surrender to the doves”

posted at 1:09 pm on January 14, 2007 by Allahpundit

Charles Krauthammer? Bill Kristol? Mark Steyn? No, hawkish lefty Bush-hater extraordinaire Jonathan Chait.

Over-learning the lessons of the last war is a classic foreign policy blunder. Yet many liberals want to make the lessons of the Iraq debacle the central basis of American foreign policy…

But this is the flip side of the same impulse that got us into the current mess. Because the doves made so many bad predictions leading up to the Gulf War — remember the mass uprisings in the Arab world and tens of thousands of U.S. casualties? — many of us ignored warnings this time that proved more prescient.

There are many lessons to be absorbed from Iraq. We’d be foolish not to absorb them; only the most dense war supporter has come away from the experience unhumbled. But the failure of a criminally negligent administration to carry out a highly challenging rebuilding task in the most hostile part of the world does not teach us everything we need to know about the efficacy of military power.

Of course we’ll learn lessons from Iraq. I’m worried that we’ll learn too much.

Update: Here’s another, from Edward Luttwak. Have we quagmired ourselves into a much stronger position in the Middle East?

The Iraq war has indeed brought into existence a New Middle East, in which Arab Sunnis can no longer gleefully disregard American interests because they need help against the looming threat of Shiite supremacy, while in Iraq at the core of the Arab world, the Shia are allied with the U.S. What past imperial statesmen strove to achieve with much cunning and cynicism, the Bush administration has brought about accidentally. But the result is exactly the same.

The U.S.-Iraqi Shiite alliance won’t last long once we’re gone, though. And while the regimes in the region might be more compliant now, what about the people themselves?


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the prospect of a Shiite-dominated Iraq is forcing Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordan, to seek American help against the rising power of the Shiites.

Of what use is a weak-willed and incompetent ally, half of whose population is ready to cut and run on the flimsiest of pretexts?

Although it was the U.S. that was responsible for ending Sunni supremacy in Iraq along with Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, it remains the only possible patron for the Sunni Arab states resisting the Shiite alliance.

Nonsense.

Lehuster on January 14, 2007 at 1:37 PM

interesting take…

Not only do I think we might have quagmired ourselves into newfound allegiances but we have exposed the nature of our enemies. I believe many in the Arab world, in spite of the media from both the Middle East and the West, have come to realize that the people they used to believe in or mildly support (terrorists), are now seen for they really are… Murderers.

The people dying in Iraq are not like the anti-war sect here in this country. To them, Bush isn’t responsible for the total slaughter that is going on in Iraq. They understand the level of sectarian violence and they understand that it’s the “foreign fighters” who are killing their families.

I think before this war many people in the Middle East viewed the United States as the enemy. I’m not saying that’s not true now but I am saying that many people hesitate to believe the nonsense their radical religious leaders are telling them to believe. Moderate people from the countries surrounding Iraq are now seeing with their own eyes who is killing so many innocent Muslims. they no longer have to rely only on the words of their radical leaders.

But I could be completely wrong…

Opinionnation on January 14, 2007 at 1:41 PM

I did thoroughly enjoy this:

Sen. John Kerry, who opposed the first Iraq war and favored the second, has a more dismal record than Vice President Dick Cheney, who at least got one of his wars right. Does that mean Cheney is necessarily a wiser foreign policy sage than Kerry?

Kerry should go ahead and move to France where at least some people still like him.

Laura on January 14, 2007 at 2:01 PM

I just saw a pig fly by my window.

Kevin M on January 14, 2007 at 2:05 PM

many of us ignored warnings this time that proved more prescient.

He’s comparing apples and oranges. The first warnings were about fighting the Iraqi Army.

Of course we’ll learn lessons from Iraq. I’m worried that we’ll learn too much.

What lessons will we learn? That a divided country is weaker? The value of propaganda – biased reporting and stupid comments by politicians actually embolden the enemy and turn away our allies? That strapping on extra “feel-good” body armor actually makes troops less safe? That spending billions of dollars on advanced weaponry is useless if you don’t have the balls to actually use it?

I think the military is learning a lot of lessons on the gorund, but the politcians are still suffering from mass cranial-rectal inversion.

reaganaut on January 14, 2007 at 2:21 PM

Pardon me. Sorry, but the ‘Doves’ are not in control of the argument. It is the Rangle, Boxer, Pelosi, Conyers ‘chicken-doves’ who drive the car. Their world view, their ‘vision’ for America goes like this;

‘As long as we talk out of both sides of our mouths the world will love us’

‘As long as we wink and nod behind the curtain, and talk to camera with our fingers crossed, the world will be a better place’

‘As long as the people are stupid the stupid people will keep allowing us to tell them what to think’

‘As long as I benefit, IDGAF about America’

Doves. Fine. They have their principles. No war, turn the other cheek. Fine. Whatever. But the American left are not ‘doves’. They are the flim-flam men. After all ‘If you can’t dazzle them with brillance then baffle them with bull—t’

Ok, I’ll go back to football and beer now.

Limerick on January 14, 2007 at 2:31 PM

“quagmired ourselves”

They sure do love that word, don’t they?

With each passing month another Iraqi or Afghan Army unit joins the fight against the global islamic jihad being fought in their country. There are hundreds of jihadis killed or captured each month. Jihadis that would otherwise be fighting against the “Great Satan” right here in America. Each month our jihadi enemies lose another piece of real estate to the forces of freedom. Two nations that used to support, train and fund the global jihad have been “flipped” and are now our allies *against* that jihad. Seems to me that the only “quagmire” is the one the jihadis are stuck in.

Get used to it people, the only way to defeat the global jihad is to destroy the regimes that support it. Iran and Syria will have to be dealt with in the same way if we are to ever have peace again. Saudi Arabia must stop funding islamic schools (right here in the U.S.) where jihad is taught to young men who are brainwashed into hating America. Muslims in North America and Europe must put nation before cult if we are to avoid a backlash against them.

The clock is ticking.

Tony737 on January 14, 2007 at 2:38 PM

Do we have a count of the numbers the Khmer Rogue killed after we left Southeast Asia?

Those are hippie deaths, one and all.

And to truely confuse all of you. If I was actually around back then, I’d probably have been against the war, especially the tactics used.

Mortis on January 14, 2007 at 2:39 PM

It’s the Shia’s country and we need to stop fighting them over it. They’ve been tortured, murdered and oppressed for so long it would be dense to think that they will not extract retribution from the Sunni, whether now or later. Let’s just get out of their way and let them stand up on their own. The press is already screaming about the slaughter, so lets speed up the process by pulling out of the worst areas. Once the Sunni realize they are toast and the US isn’t going to save them, they’ll jump on the peaceful democracy bandwagon darn quick.

Patrick H on January 14, 2007 at 2:44 PM

I think the military is learning a lot of lessons on the gorund, but the politcians are still suffering from mass cranial-rectal inversion.

reaganaut on January 14, 2007 at 2:21 PM

Exactly. The “older and wiser” heads in this war have so far proven only that they are older.

And if our politicians are not going to let our guys take off the gloves, then we should pull out and let the Sunnis and Shias fight it out. Let the Sunni governments in the region support the Iraqi Sunnis, let Iran support the Shiites, and let both sacrifice their blood and treasury instead of us doing it. Both sides will be wishing they had kissed our infidel asses.

thirteen28 on January 14, 2007 at 3:26 PM

I may as well add my two cents. When talking about the middle east we have to stop talking about the big groups, like the Sunni or Shia. The Kurds are Sunni, do they like the Arab Sunnis? Not bloody likely. Similarly the Arab Shia HATE the Persian. Then finally each of these groups are broken up into lots of small to large tribes many of whom don’t get along.

When Turkey ruled the area now called Iraq, the tribes would from time to time rebel against the Turks. The Turks would withdraw, the tibes would bet the crap out of each other collapsing in exhaustion. Then the Turks would move back in.

David on January 14, 2007 at 3:33 PM

Sorry, but the ‘Doves’ are not in control of the argument. It is the Rangle, Boxer, Pelosi, Conyers ‘chicken-doves’ who drive the car.

The correct term should be Chicken-Sheep. Say it three times fast.

.

GT on January 14, 2007 at 7:59 PM

It’s curious to me what the “smartest girl in the room” crowd thinks they have learned so far from the Iraq experience, start to finish.

It seems to me that everyone thinks they learned something different.

Jaibones on January 14, 2007 at 9:16 PM

All are saying about the same thing. Our enemies cannot win unless they have a caliphate. A large section of the world hermetically sealed off from any of our social, economic, religious and cultural mores. They have to have this privileged sanctuary there while they practice coercive proselyting on us here. If they do not have said caliphate, they lose.
Our presence over there has denied them a caliphate and if they do not manage to get it within the next decade or two, it will probably be forever beyond their grasp. On a worst case basis, if we continue to blunder along like we have taking casualties at around the same rate, then we win with no more than 75% to 80% of the deaths we took in Korea.
If we can improve our performance, great. But remember we win, blunders and all, if we do not run. As U. S. Grant, would say, “Fight it out on this line if it takes all century!”

Oilpatcher on January 14, 2007 at 9:32 PM

He who dares, wins.

I think before this war many people in the Middle East viewed the United States as the enemy. I’m not saying that’s not true now but I am saying that many people hesitate to believe the nonsense their radical religious leaders are telling them to believe. Moderate people from the countries surrounding Iraq are now seeing with their own eyes who is killing so many innocent Muslims. they no longer have to rely only on the words of their radical leaders.

But I could be completely wrong…

I don’t think you’re wrong. Only the libs think we’re in the wrong because they are clueless as to what “right” is. The more educated and cosmopolitan the Middle East becomes the more it will resemble the West. The problems they are having there now are a direct extension of their religious beliefs. As you think… you are. Islam is hard-wired for death, destruction, and desolation so the less “religious” the people are, the better it will be for the region. Who knows, we might even see a resurgence of Christianity there.

Mojave Mark on January 15, 2007 at 12:57 AM

It’s curious to me what the “smartest girl in the room” crowd thinks they have learned so far from the Iraq experience, start to finish.

It seems to me that everyone thinks they learned something different.

Jaibones on January 14, 2007 at 9:16 PM

1) We have yet to develop a post Cold War foreign policy that is workable and lucid and has consensus.
2) Ignorance of other cultures is dangerous.
3) Politics corrupt.
4) The WMD folly was/is a huge problem for the administration. After the non-discovery, there was never any clear message as to why we were in Iraq; this matters because you cannot win a war lacking public support.
5) There is a real disconnect between the military and the civilian command.
6) There are limits to what the military can accomplish lacking political and diplomatic solutions.
7) Militant Islam is a global issue requiring global response.
8) Iran was a problem before Iraq. That danger has increased exponentially. At this point, our decisions in Iraq should be driven by how those decisions affect the Iran situation.

honora on January 15, 2007 at 9:43 AM

When the Bush administration came into office, only Egypt and Jordan were functioning allies of the U.S. Iran and Iraq were already declared enemies, Syria was hostile, and even its supposed friends in the Arabian peninsula were so disinclined to help that none did anything to oppose al Qaeda. Some actively helped it, while others knowingly allowed private funds to reach the terrorists whose declared aim was to kill Americans.

President Bush has managed to divide and conquer the Middle East.

honora has made the case for her party, brilliantly, again:

blame, blame, blame, list problems, endlessly, and suggest nothing…

If on item #7 you’re trying to say that the rest of the world is not responding commensurate with the threat, I give you full credit; if you blame that on others, again, no words…also, please don’t tell me that Kerry would have…

On total consensus – synergy is when we all go under together – we can, however, sing kumbaya while we do…

Entelechy on January 15, 2007 at 1:05 PM

President Bush has managed to divide and conquer the Middle East.

honora has made the case for her party, brilliantly, again:

blame, blame, blame, list problems, endlessly, and suggest nothing…

If on item #7 you’re trying to say that the rest of the world is not responding commensurate with the threat, I give you full credit; if you blame that on others, again, no words…also, please don’t tell me that Kerry would have…

On total consensus – synergy is when we all go under together – we can, however, sing kumbaya while we do…

Entelechy on January 15, 2007 at 1:05 PM

The question was, what has everyone learned from Iraq. Ignorance of other cultures is dangerous–what a partisan idea. And if we have a post Cold War strategy, kindly enlighten me as to what it is.

You have lost all objectivity. Pity.

honora on January 15, 2007 at 1:47 PM

“I don’t want to accuse American doves of rooting for the United States to lose…”

I do.

JackM on January 15, 2007 at 4:17 PM

Entelechy on January 15, 2007 at 1:05 PM

Oh no, Entelechy you have lost all objectivity. And you were doing so well. Looks like you have to start your liberal 12 step program over again.
Hang your head in shame, a liberal called you names.

right2bright on January 15, 2007 at 4:43 PM

What has everyone learned from Iraq? – obviously, many different things, mine definitely different from yours.

Ignorance of other cultures – hoping you meant that in general. If it was specific to me, I probably stand to learn many things from you honora – much about other cultures is not one of them.

Does your party have a post Cold War strategy? Please don’t come back with “Bush is the CiC”. The Cold War ended before him and will still be over after him.

On your “objectivity” insult – by now to be insulted by you has become a badge of honor. Also, pity doesn’t work on me – I’m a strong independent woman.

Entelechy on January 15, 2007 at 5:09 PM

right2bright, forgot to reply to you…I’ll need to emigrate legally again, only this time I need to attend the right, I mean the Left universities.

My bad on the first go…read above on the name-calling. Yet, they are the refined elite, from the Northeast, erudite, composed, compassionate, et all…

Entelechy on January 15, 2007 at 5:14 PM