Daniel Larison on the Iraq war

The American Conservative is a publication for US conservatives who are trying to hold on to what used to be an honorable political tradition and not the crazy set of jingoistic and reactionary views that the Republican party now represents. In a recent issue Daniel Larison roundly condemns the Iraq war that George W. Bush started against Iraq and all the conservatives who supported it at the time, not sparing those who now express some reservations

In doing so, he violates the central right-wing dogma and says that the US has lost the war in Iraq.

Bush loyalists will believe whatever they want to believe, but their self-serving spin has to be rejected for what it is. The Iraq war may not have been “the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history,” as Will claimed, but it ranks among the four or five worst blunders in the annals of the United States. It was an unnecessary war, it had nothing to do with securing the U.S. or its allies, and it has manifestly made the region less stable and secure than it was before the invasion. The U.S. paid an appalling price in thousands of lost lives, tens of thousands wounded, and trillions of dollars wasted on a fool’s errand to “disarm” a government that had been disarmed years earlier. American soldiers were sacrificed year after year in the name of creating a democratic government in Iraq only to usher in a sectarian, semi-authoritarian regime whose abusive misrule helped to create the current conflict. Along the way, millions of Iraqis were displaced internally or forced into exile, over a hundred thousand died, and most of the rest have been living in a failed state for more than ten years.

The U.S. lost that war by any reasonable measure in that it threw away thousands of American lives and more than a hundred thousand Iraqi lives for the sake of creating a wrecked, impoverished country ruled by sectarian thugs. The “surge” served the purpose of allowing American politicians to pretend that this hadn’t happened in order to extricate American forces from the debacle sooner rather than later.

Bush will never own up to his responsibility for this disaster, and apparently neither will many of his supporters. That is their failure. No one else has to share in it.

The total long-term cost of this vast crime in terms of lives lost, resources squandered, and an entire region of the world destroyed is immense. And no one responsible will be brought to account.


  1. DonDueed says

    This article may be behind a paywall, but it argues that the so-called “surge” in Iraq (in 2007) was actually a failure, and should not be considered a model for future American policy.


    It draws from this book, written by a retired general:

    All in all, Iraq seems a lot more like Vietnam than anything accomplished by the “greatest generation”.

  2. Francisco Bacopa says

    He’s a fool to think there’s an “America” that can win or lose wars. The Iraq war was simply a wealth transfer program from one set of classes to another. It was also domestic policy, a way for one class to to distract and intimidate other classes.

    And since you were wondering, why yes; I have been communicating with the ghost of Karl Marx. How did you know?

  3. sailor1031 says

    One of the commenters there ends: “Iraq, on the other hand, was destroyed.”

    How do we know that this was not the, or one of the purposes of the war? Cui bono? It may not be who you think!

    I am mightily unimpressed by conservatives who, in 2014, are finally coming to where they should have been in 2003. If anyone was misled by Bush and his cronies in 2003 it was because they wanted to be. The evidence that the casus belli was a crock was freely available.

    And let us not just lay this at the door of Bush and the neocons as Larison does. The whole country, with few exceptions, is to blame for this one (as they were overwhelmingly for the war in VietNam at its start too). The congress on both sides overwhelmingly supported it; the media overwhelmingly supported it; the people of the USA overwhelmingly supported it. And the few of us who did not support it were roundly condemned on all sides.

  4. md says

    I think it was William Buckley who observed that liberals tend to love dead conservatives. Im curious to draw you out, Mano, on the honorable position that American Conservative represents. I personally like the magazine and think Larison and Andrew Bacevich are terribly under read or ignored in the main. That said, Id argue that Larison’s foreign policy is far more conservative, and perhaps even reactionary, than GW Bush’s neo-Wilsonian arguments for foreign intervention. Bush believed and said that ‘freedom burns in the heart of every individual’ throughout the world. Never a less conservative statement was uttered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *