Thursday, August 21, 2008

Iraq war still a mistake

I've got to give Francis Fukuyama a little credit for taking a sensible position and sticking to it, and for the Wall Street Journal, which has been consistently pro-war and absurdly belligerent about almost every international issue, for printing his column. A few weeks ago he paid the Journal's Bret Stephens $100 on a wager that Iraq would be a "mess" five years from 2003. He concedes that Iraq is in better shape than a year ago and in better shape than almost anybody really expected. However:

"What I absolutely did not concede, however, was the fact that this change meant the war itself was worth it. By invading Iraq in the manner it did, the U.S. exacerbated all of the threats it faced prior to 2003. Recruitment into terrorist cells shot up all over the world. North Korea and Iran accelerated their development of nuclear weapons." And Iran is now the dominant player in the Persian Gulf region.

Fukuyama also explains, beyond the psychological reluctance, why so many war opponents are so reluctant to concede that the "surge" has "worked" -- beyond the obvious fact that other factors, including the Anbar Awakening beginning before the surge and Muqtada al-Sadr getting word from Iran to enter a cease-fire were involved. As Fukuyama puts it, "The smallest concession induces supporters of the war to argue that they were right all along, as Mr. Stephens did." This war may end without the result being indefinite occupation and a complete mess in Iraq. But it was still unnecessary and unwise.

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