Walter Russell Mead rightly praises our soldiers in Iraq. Our servicemen and women deserve our respect. Mead also claims our soldiers are responsible for our victory in Iraq. Read David Larison’s post in response to Mead for another view of that claim. It’s at The American Conservative: <http://www.amconmag.com/larison/>. Larison’s article explains once more why the Iraq war was a costly, strategic blunder. Some so-called victories aren’t worth the cost, no matter how motivated you are to claim success.
When Mead compares George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln, saying both leaders failed their way to victory, he shows an irrational sympathy for Bush, an incompetent criminal. The Iraq war seems one of those issues where people won’t change their view. I’m in that category. I believe an illegal war can’t have a good outcome for the country that initiates it, no matter what happens in the attacked country years later. A criminal act remains a criminal act.
Caution: don’t analyze responses to this war based on standard political labels like left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, or any other spectrum. The labels just don’t work. Mead uses these convenient categories to dismiss people who don’t see things as he does. The radical leftists and the defeatist liberals, he says, will always refuse to see the victory right in front of their eyes. When you see a good thinker use these categories to dismiss the opposition, become skeptical. Labels often mask intellectual laziness.
A thinker of Mead’s caliber should not make simple mistakes. Mead actually claims that our success in the Iraq war changed history because it deflated Al Qaeda’s grandiose plans for a new caliphate that would destroy the United States. What he misses is that grandiose, unrealistic plans always fail. They deflate one way or another. You don’t need a horrible war like the one in Iraq to accomplish that result.