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Iraq war my biggest regret, Bush admits

Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room

praktik

TRIBE Member

The Iraq Debacle Twenty Years Later​

Attacking Iraq would not have been justified even if all of the Bush administration claims had been true.​


Daniel Larison

Robert Zoellick reviews Melvyn Leffler’s history of the start of the Iraq war, Confronting Saddam Hussein: George W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq. He concludes with this remark:
Today’s Washington zeitgeist wants to force a showdown with China. Leffler’s history suggests the need to ask lots of questions and to consider options carefully.
Many accounts of the Iraq war dwell on the Bush administration’s shoddy or non-existent preparations and their failure to think through all the possible consequences of what they were proposing to do. It seems that Leffler’s history does the same. That is an important part of the history, but it can miss the larger lesson from this debacle: criminal aggression is never acceptable, no matter what the pretext for it may be.

No doubt the Bush administration was profoundly incompetent and irresponsible in their many failures to prepare for the aftermath and to consider alternatives to war, but the main flaw in their policy was their willingness to commit illegal aggression against another country. Iraq’s government did not possess the weapons programs that the Bush administration claimed that it had, but attacking Iraq would not have been justified even if all of the Bush administration claims had been true.

Preventive war is inherently wrong and unjustified even if the threat is real, and of course in the case of Iraq in 2003 they had to fabricate the threat, too. There is no policy process and no amount of careful consideration that can stop an unnecessary war if the policymakers are in thrall to delusions about American power and if they cultivate irrational fears of foreign threats. There is usually nothing that can stop a government from launching a war of aggression if it thinks it can sell that aggression as defense. I wonder if a history that is being praised for its “balanced perspective” and “great empathy” can adequately capture the illegality and criminality of what the U.S. did in 2003. If it does, Zoellick has nothing to say about it. Twenty years after the invasion, this seems like a step in the wrong direction when it comes to understanding the Iraq war for what it really was.
Zoellick writes earlier in the review:

The problem with coercive diplomacy is that if diplomacy fails, coercion must follow — unless one is willing to back down.
As a rule, it’s a good idea not to make threats unless one is prepared to carry them out, but it is wiser and more prudent to back down from a stupid, unwarranted threat than to plunge ahead with a war that you are choosing to start just to preserve “credibility.” The U.S., Iraq, and the wider region would all be better off if Bush had not launched his illegal war, and only the most fanatical warmongers would have faulted Bush for damaging “credibility.” A political culture that penalizes wise caution and rewards reckless stupidity encourages our political leaders to make wrong decisions in the name of appearing “strong,” and the fetishization of credibility is a big part of what makes our political culture so awful.

Turning to China policy, it is not enough just to ask questions and carefully consider options. Those are important and necessary parts of any policy process, but by themselves they can’t fix a policy whose overreaching goals are taken for granted and placed beyond question. If the goals are extremely ambitious, it is usually just a matter of time before the means to achieve them become equally aggressive. As our China policy has become a containment policy in all but name and U.S. domination of the Pacific is the goal, the U.S. has put itself on a collision course with another major power. Unless the U.S. scales back its ambitions, we are likely in for another much more costly debacle in the not-so-distant future.
 

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member

The Iraq Debacle Twenty Years Later​

Attacking Iraq would not have been justified even if all of the Bush administration claims had been true.​


Daniel Larison

Robert Zoellick reviews Melvyn Leffler’s history of the start of the Iraq war, Confronting Saddam Hussein: George W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq. He concludes with this remark:

Many accounts of the Iraq war dwell on the Bush administration’s shoddy or non-existent preparations and their failure to think through all the possible consequences of what they were proposing to do. It seems that Leffler’s history does the same. That is an important part of the history, but it can miss the larger lesson from this debacle: criminal aggression is never acceptable, no matter what the pretext for it may be.

No doubt the Bush administration was profoundly incompetent and irresponsible in their many failures to prepare for the aftermath and to consider alternatives to war, but the main flaw in their policy was their willingness to commit illegal aggression against another country. Iraq’s government did not possess the weapons programs that the Bush administration claimed that it had, but attacking Iraq would not have been justified even if all of the Bush administration claims had been true.

Preventive war is inherently wrong and unjustified even if the threat is real, and of course in the case of Iraq in 2003 they had to fabricate the threat, too. There is no policy process and no amount of careful consideration that can stop an unnecessary war if the policymakers are in thrall to delusions about American power and if they cultivate irrational fears of foreign threats. There is usually nothing that can stop a government from launching a war of aggression if it thinks it can sell that aggression as defense. I wonder if a history that is being praised for its “balanced perspective” and “great empathy” can adequately capture the illegality and criminality of what the U.S. did in 2003. If it does, Zoellick has nothing to say about it. Twenty years after the invasion, this seems like a step in the wrong direction when it comes to understanding the Iraq war for what it really was.
Zoellick writes earlier in the review:


As a rule, it’s a good idea not to make threats unless one is prepared to carry them out, but it is wiser and more prudent to back down from a stupid, unwarranted threat than to plunge ahead with a war that you are choosing to start just to preserve “credibility.” The U.S., Iraq, and the wider region would all be better off if Bush had not launched his illegal war, and only the most fanatical warmongers would have faulted Bush for damaging “credibility.” A political culture that penalizes wise caution and rewards reckless stupidity encourages our political leaders to make wrong decisions in the name of appearing “strong,” and the fetishization of credibility is a big part of what makes our political culture so awful.

Turning to China policy, it is not enough just to ask questions and carefully consider options. Those are important and necessary parts of any policy process, but by themselves they can’t fix a policy whose overreaching goals are taken for granted and placed beyond question. If the goals are extremely ambitious, it is usually just a matter of time before the means to achieve them become equally aggressive. As our China policy has become a containment policy in all but name and U.S. domination of the Pacific is the goal, the U.S. has put itself on a collision course with another major power. Unless the U.S. scales back its ambitions, we are likely in for another much more costly debacle in the not-so-distant future.

Colin Powell, a career military man, both never recovered after Cheney fed him false Intel, nor did he remain a Republican because of it. Think about that.
 
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