04 May 2011

Bill Kristol, wrong yet again

There is so much wrong with this email from Bill Kristol to Politico's Ben Smith, regarding Sarah Palin's foreign-policy views, that it numbs the mind.

Kristol: My other thought: The surge in Iraq works.

Well, yes. But as we've noted here before, and has been discussed ad nauseum by the likes of thoughtful conservatives like Ross Douthat, Andrew Sullivan and Daniel Larison, the idea that Iraq was an unqualified success to be duplicated elsewhere is absurd. We were told that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs. We were told wrong. We were told that he had close ties to al Qaeda and/or a role in 9/11. We were told wrong. We were told he was a clear and present danger to the United States. We were told wrong. In addition to the attack in hindsight being completely baseless, the Iraq adventure cemented Iran's status as chief antagonist in the Middle East and removed its greatest enemy, a man against whom Iran went to war in the mid-1980s. If the objective was to increase Iranian hegemony and influence in the Middle East, Iraq can be considered a success, but I doubt Kristol feels that way. Not only has Iran's regional influence been elevated, but its influence inside of Iraq has been greatly furthered by the murderous Shiite cleric ad-Sadr, who has the blood of hundreds of American servicemen and thousands of innocent Iraqis on his hands. Finally, Iraq and Abu Ghraib have proven to be enormous recruiting tools for al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden explicitly stated that it was his intention to weaken the United States by drawing it into a global war against Islam, so it is difficult to imagine him doing anything other than cheering the American invasion. So to put a fine point on it -- and putting aside the issue of whether the surge was a success -- Kristol is living in an alternate reality if he thinks America is better off since having gone into Iraq.

The surge in Afghanistan works.

Is this a statement of fact or an objective? There is no evidence that the Afghanistan "surge" has worked in any credible respect.

The world obviously needs American strength and leadership more than ever.

Kristol and other neocons perpetually spout tinny lines like this, which don't mean anything unless "American strength and leadership" is defined. If it means launching attacks against any nation that doesn't offer absolute support for American objectives, or against any nation that isn't a western democracy, then he has a vastly different idea of "American strength and leadership" than Ronald Reagan. As we've said before, the answer for Kristol is always "more troops" or "more war," regardless of the facts on the ground, regardless of how reckless such action might actually be, and regardless of whether such a projection of force would actually be detrimental to American interests. It is an incomprehensible foreign policy and would cause America, both economically and militarily, to crumble in on itself. And it ignores the plain reality that revolutions must by nature be organic.

And now everyone (even Palin, to some degree) decides, hey, time to back off? It’s foolish substantively and politically.

What is foolish is continuing to sabre-rattle for war despite the horrific misadventure in Iraq, the muddled quagmire of Afghanistan and the complete lack of an objective in Libya. If backing off from random, haphazard, foolish military adventurism abroad, which has harmed American interests in the world's most critical region, is considered "foolish," then consider me and most Americans foolhardy. Most Americans are tired of this idiotic brand of foreign policy.

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