Foreign Policy War

TWIS: Either have a good plan or a long-term plan

It seems like you can always count on Dr. Ben Carson to provide a fresh, hot batch of stupid to save your (sorta) weekly column. He was interviewed by The Hill and said (as he had to), “I was never in favor of going into Iraq.” So far, so good. But his follow-up was priceless. “When you go into a situation with so many factions and such a complex history,” he said, “unless you know what you’re doing or have a long-term strategy, it just creates more problems.” Now, Dr. Carson might have meant we should have both knowledge and a long-term strategy, except that he adds “..and since we did go in, the big problem is that we didn’t secure victory there, and that’s a huge problem.” In other words, since you didn’t know what you were doing going in, you’d better make up for it by staying longer.

This is the unanswered question for the Right. Imagine you’re Barack Obama in 2009. You’ve inherited two wars. Both will be a decade old (twice as long as WWII) by the end of your first term and rapidly approaching the 100,000 deaths and 4 trillion dollar mark. What’s a traitorous, deficit-ballooning, secret Muslim election-stealer to do? Continue Bush’s folly, rooted in deception, greed and industrial-strength denial? Cut and run? Stay the course?

The answer from the Stupid, of course, is that you should have done the opposite of whatever Barack Obama did do. Since he left, then the right (Right!) answer was not to leave. But was it? By 2010, the government of Nouri al-Maliki, Shia prime minister of Iraq, was corrupt, sectarian and weak. It was heavily supported by Iran-backed, loosely-controlled Shia militia. It was complicit in the persecution of the Sunni minority. The actions of this government and its thugs really created ISIS in Iraq.

I’ve never heard a critic of Obama’s Iraq policy state what should have been the criteria for withdrawing troops from Iraq. How long, after all, should we have continued to prop up the Maliki government in contradiction of its own expressed wishes? John McCain thinks we should have stayed for 100 years. At least he has the courage to say so. Cowards like Carson make sideways allusions to some phantom fool-proof strategy that’s a bound to succeed. Clowns like Donald Trump comically state they have a secret silver bullet strategy, but won’t tell us what it is.

Politics is politics, of course, but now we have a chorus of GOP Presidential candidates who brazenly advocate for the reinvasion of Iraq. (Carson, to his credit, is not one of them.) For the GOP, and their defense contractor backers, war doesn’t need a goal. It is the goal. The more nebulous and unattainable the exit strategy, the better.

Madonna once said, “I prefer young men. They don’t know what they’re doing, but they can do it all night!” Looks like Dr. Ben and the GOP may have found another fan of their foreign policy.