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Anne Applebaum, You Gotta Be Putting Me On


Henley and Yglesias say most of what needs to be said about today’s bite of banality. As the former points out, the actual effect of this pox-on-all-their-houses-but-not-my-house High Broderism is to implicitly advocate the status quo without having to bother to make an argument in its favor. The only thing I’ll add is that the fact that withdrawal could have disastrous consequences, while certainly a convincing argument against starting the predictably disastrous war in the first place, is only a good argument against leaving if the occupation was actually improving the security situation. What’s actually happening, however, is that we’re getting further from the plausible emergence of a stable Iraqi state, and even Applebaum isn’t willing to claim otherwise. So the potential for bad things to happen after the troops leave — which I’ve heard few opponents of the war deny — is neither here nor there given the obvious inability of the American military to create a strong Iraqi state ex nihilo. The point of the argument, rather, is simply part of the broader war apologist long-term exit strategy: i.e. to shift the blame for the catastrophe from the people who are actually responsible for it to people who tried to stop it.

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