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Stupid Wars Cannot Fail, They Can Only Be Failed

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Yglesias is making sense:

The logic on display here shows the toxic self-justifying nature of American military adventures. If a war accomplishes its stated objectives, that goes to show that war is great. If a war fails to accomplish its stated objectives — as the Bush-era surge miserably failed to produce a durable political settlement in Iraq — then that simply proves that more war was called for.

But there is simply no reason to believe that the presence of American soldiers in Iraq makes a durable political settlement more likely, and there never has been. If eight years weren’t enough, why would one more — or two more or twenty more — be the key to success?

The truth is the opposite. The speed with which the apparent gains of the surge melted away in the face of Iraq’s entrenched domestic political problems underscores how futile the US-led campaign there was.

The US military is the finest military in the world, the sharp spear of the mightiest empire in human history. But the considerable virtues of America’s fighting forces do not give it any particular expertise in micro-managing Iraqi politics. And the fundamentals in Iraq have simply never been very good for a peaceful and democratic settlement. The country is not only divided between sectarian groups, but sandwiched between two rival regional powers, with Iran tending to favor Shiite interests, Saudi Arabia tending to favor Sunni ones, and neither power having any particular interest in democracy and pluralism. Throw in the well-known phenomenon of the oil curse and the country’s lack of stable institutions, and you’ve got a recipe for problems, problems that a bunch of heavily armed young people — no matter how well-intentioned or well-led — are not capable of solving.

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