Brought to you by the LA Times.
It was very nice of Niall Ferguson to let us know what all thought processes we got wrong before going into Iraq. Here’s his list:
The first big neocon error was their abandonment of realism. In particular, there was a failure to grasp the implications of toppling Hussein for the Middle Eastern balance of power. Henry Kissinger was right when he said of the Iran-Iraq war: “A pity they both can’t lose.” By getting rid of Hussein, the United States unwittingly handed Iran a belated victory.
Second, there was a woeful lack of historical knowledge. Too many people in Washington bought the idea that the postwar reconstruction of Iraq would be akin to the post-communist reconstruction of Poland.
But the third and perhaps worst sin of omission was a lack of self-knowledge. In assuming that the United States enjoyed “full-spectrum dominance” and was therefore in a position to do as it pleased in Iraq, the neocons failed to appreciate four deep-seated American weaknesses.
First, the U.S. has a chronic financial deficit, which is making it increasingly dependent on foreign capital and strapped for resources when it comes to nation building. Second, the U.S. has a chronic manpower deficit, which means it cannot deploy enough soldiers to maintain law and order in conquered territory. Third, the U.S. has a chronic attention deficit because after two years of even quite low casualties, American voters lose their enthusiasm for small wars in faraway places. Fourth is the chronic legitimacy deficit from which the United States now suffers. The most recent findings of the Pew Global Attitudes Survey — a compendium of international opinion polls — reveal just how precipitously the standing of the United States has fallen in the eyes of foreigners in the last six years.
So to re-cap: 1-Our government of pretty smart people along with all their advisors, the CIA, the state dept, etc could not figure out that ousting Saddam would leave a power vacuum.
2- Those same people thought that working in the middle east would be just like working in Europe.
3 – We think that not only do we own the world, but that the world loves us.
This is all in a column discussing our presence in Iraq. Those are his reasons for what we screwed up. His column includes reasons why we must stay in Iraq and that it was ok to get ride of Saddam. His column does not include one word about the reasons we went in in the first place! There is also not one word about the world before Saddam was ousted. How it is that he thinks all those smart people had things so wrong. What’s his evidence of this?
His conclusions are fine, but he’s trying to “Kerry” the subject. Be against it for all of these very smart, very intellectual reasons and yet vote for it, if only it was someone smarter running the war.