David Frum has been horribly pro-war for a long time, though Matt Welch at Reason points out that he did apologize for his role in beating the drums for the Iraq invasion. But it is bizarre that Frum is now playing the Rand Paul role while Rand Paul himself has sided with war, only asking that Congress get to approve Barack Obama’s plan (which, of course, Obama will probably not allow; too Constitutional).
Frum is completely against “going back to Iraq.”
The top foreign-policy priority of the president’s first term was to end the U.S. commitment in Iraq as rapidly and completely as possible, with minimal regard for what followed.
That policy was successfully implemented. Now we face the policy’s consequences: the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). So today we have a new priority: back to Iraq, back to war. To the untutored, that might seem like a pretty dismal outcome.
No matter how bad things, look, though, it’s always possible to make them worse. A war now against ISIS will do just that.
That first paragraph is a bit more snarky than Obama deserves (I hate to admit). The fact is that the voters wanted the occupation of Iraq to end. That’s one reason that Obama was elected President. Furthermore, Obama tried to break that promise and keep troops in Iraq, but the Iraqi government didn’t want them around.
Nevertheless, Frum is obviously against the war. He thinks it will cost us more than we gain.
Some of his reasoning I strongly disagree with, but this one seems quite persuasive, and much like something I wrote about Libya and the President:
This summer, Obama told Thomas Friedman of The New York Times that his greatest foreign-policy regret was not following up on his Libya intervention to ensure a stable transition to a new government. As admissions go, this one was a flabbergaster. Over four years, first in the U.S. Senate, then as a candidate for president, Barack Obama powerfully upbraided the Bush administration for the defects of its plan to stabilize Iraq after overthrowing Saddam. If he hit that point once, he hit that point a thousand times. Yet when it became his turn to overthrow a dictatorial regime, he dismissed his own top critique of his predecessor. He went to war in Libya without any clear idea of what was to come after, or how that was to be achieved. But more incredibly yet, Obama is now preparing another intervention—this one vastly more important—in Syria and Iraq with no clearer idea of what he hopes to achieve than he had in Libya.
That’s right. What are we going to do once we get rid of the Islamic State?
Frum spends a good deal of space worrying about Iran and Assad benefitting from our incursion. I agree with Frum’s conclusion but his reasoning is beside the point. Iran benefitted the moment we invaded and put Iraq in control of its Shiite majority according to the rules of democracy. As a mainly Shiite nation, Iraq became a natural ally to Iran and to Assad’s regime. Frum and George W. Bush assisted Iran in this way.
Still, Frum’s point that no good will come from “going back to Iraq” deserves consideration.