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?