Thursday, June 19, 2014

Larison on Iraq Hawks

Daniel Larison shows why he and his colleagues are worth a read in The American Conservative.

The Iraq war in particular was the greatest foreign policy blunder in a generation...Many of the loudest advocates for action in Iraq today have remained either oblivious to the consequences of the policies they supported, or they actively deny responsibility for those consequences. Unlike Beinart, many Iraq war hawks have never admitted significant error. At most, they have usually retreated to the last defense of the ideologue: “The policy was sound, and it was just the execution that failed.” They haven’t repudiated their old views, and they have never taken responsibility for the failure of the policy they supported. Indeed, so delusional are some of them that they insist that the Iraq war had been “won” right up until U.S. forces left. So one of the reasons that it is appropriate to pay little or no attention to the predictably hawkish recommendations of Iraq war hawks is that they have proven to be impervious to evidence that their previous assumptions were profoundly wrong. It is impossible to take seriously arguments from people that willfully ignore their own past mistakes in analysis and judgment.

As long as Iraq war hawks pretend that recent events have somehow vindicated their old arguments (I'm looking at you, Bill Kristol), their arguments should be dismissed as the desperately self-serving claims that they are. Another reason to pay them no mind is that many of them are repeating similarly misleading arguments and perpetuating false assumptions about the efficacy of hard power that led them to blunder as badly as they did twelve years ago. Having learned absolutely nothing from their failure, they have nothing to teach anyone else. They are free to say their piece, but it would be a waste of time and energy to pretend that they are saying anything worth listening to.

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