So America is headed back to war in Iraq. That wasnt' a good idea in 2003 and it's not a good idea now, I argue in a new Daily Beast column. Here are snippets:
Why the hell is the United States going back into Iraq? And to what end?
Americans famously don't know much about history, but the willingness to ignore the immediate decade-plus of failure and plunge back into the fog of war without any clear articulation of national interests, exit strategy, or even obvious battle plan borders on the criminally insane.
In last week's official notification to Congress, President Obama invoked immediate, limited humanitarian aims as the trigger for action— who doesn't feel for the the Yazidis, who are already suffering under the lunatic vision of a Caliphate propounded by the Islamic State?
But as The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reported, he's using that aspect of the mission to provide cover for a far more expansive "military campaign [that] would last months and not weeks." Our goal, the president said at a press conference, is to make sure the Islamic State "is not engaging in actions that could cripple a country." How's that for an open-ended statement of purpose?…
The goal of American foreign policy should first and foremost be the defense of American lives and goals. There's no more reason to go back into Iraq now than there was to invade back in 2003. If the first decade-plus of the 21st century should have taught us anything, it's that the United States' ability to terraform the world in its image is severely limited and leads to all sorts of unintended consequences. In terms of strict humanitarian concerns, it would better to help people leave war-torn regions and accept them on our shores.
But if the warrant for a new Iraq war is, in the president's words, to make sure that ISIL and other groups are "not engaging in actions that could cripple a country," America's worst days of playing World Police are still sadly ahead of us.