Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jeb, Iraq, and Lessons Not Learned

Poor Jeb has finally closed the circle. In less than a week he has taken every imaginable position on the Iraq War. On Monday he said he loved it, then on Tuesday that he didn't know what to think. On Wednesday he suggested he did have an opinion but was going to keep it secret so as to not "dishonor" the troops. Now, today, he says he would have gone to war. Although that was not a statement of policy but a Jeb saying, "Okay, I'll say whatever you want me to, can we just shut up about it!"

In one week he was pro-war, anti-war, ignorant about it, and secretive about it. That's Olympic quality flip-flopping.
While on his "I won't tell you" part of the week, Jeb said we should focus on "the lessons learned." Of course, he then didn't say what those lessons are because that would require thinking. If we've learned anything this past week it is that all the time it was Jeb who was the most idiot Bush brother.

Lessons Bush learned from the Iraq War
If you listen to former George Bush advisers (see above Venn Chart) the lessons learned are vague and not much. Three advisers wrote articles for World Affairs Journal two years ago. Reading their articles is mostly a lesson in butt covering.

Richard Perle thinks we need a "political strategy" that supports insurgent elements in countries we oppose and have them fight proxy wars for us. Which is exactly what Perle did during the Reagan Administration when we armed and funded the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua. Perle thinks the lesson is to repeat what failed miserably thirty years ago.

Paul Wolfowitz thinks the lesson is to train soldiers for "counterinsurgency, not for peacekeeping." In other words, Wolfowitz thinks the army should become a colonial police force suppressing native uprising wherever they occur.

Michael Hayden actually thought about this question and found four lessons. 1) Don't have blind faith in intelligence. 2) Intelligence is fungible, strategy direct tactics and the reverse. 3) Keep Congress out of things. 4) His fourth lesson boils down to Minority Report was a great movie, anticipating and preventing things are dang near impossible.

Real Lessons of the War
Lots of more open minded people, like Harvard professor Stephen Walt, have drawn lessons from the Iraq War.
  • It easy for charlatans to bamboozle the US into war.  Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz and others conned us into the Iraq War because they thought it would be quick, easy, and fun. And we believed them. By the time we figured out it was none of those things we were stuck in quicksand.
  • There will always be foreigners (Ahmed Chalabi, Bibi Netanyahu) who will want to finagle the US into fighting their wars for them.
  • Invading a country makes everybody in that country hate us. In Iraq, the Shi'ites wanted Saddam removed with bloody prejudice yet they quickly started shooting at Americans because we were a fucking army invading their country.
  • Colonial occupations forces inevitably start fighting back against the people they are supposed to protect. It happened in Iraq and Baltimore. They hate us oppressing them, we punish them for hating us which makes them hate us all the more. Atrocities are the natural outgrowth of Wolfowitz's strategy of counterinsurgency not peacekeeping.
  • America has more war profiteers per capita than any other country in the history of mankind. The companies that make tanks and missiles and bullets and bombs make no profits in times of peace. They require wars, demand wars, and pay our politicians well to provide an endless string of profitable wars.

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