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What Republicans learned from the Iraq War mistake

Soon I’ll try to stop obsessing on the lessons of the Iraq War. Jeb Bush’s unfortunate brain freeze during the Fox News interview when he said that he absolutely would have authorized the war might have given us a chance to think about the deeper lessons, but, I fear, it did not.

Bush couldn’t quite wriggle off the hook by saying that he had misinterpreted the question, nor by saying he wouldn’t speculate on hypotheticals, and eventually conceded that the war had been a mistake.

By the time he did that, most of the 92 other candidates for the Republican nomination had stepped forward to say that “knowing what we know now” the war had obviously turned out to be a mistake. David Brooks noted that — more interesting and newsworthy to him than Jeb’s gyrations — was the new Republican consensus that the war had been a mistake.

Brooks seems to be trying hard to rein in the cynicism that afflicts much of the punditocracy, so he didn’t take the next step and point out that the occasion for this new Republican Iraq-War-was-a-mistake consensus was fairly obviously not a new wisdom about the folly of war but a cynical desire to extend Jeb’s bad week.

But the real problem with this new “wisdom” was nailed to the wall by a column a week ago (which I unfortunately found only this morning) by Paul Waldman, who writes for the Washington Post’s “Plum Line” blog. The realization that the Iraq War (the war that going to be a cakewalk and was going to unleash a democratic spring across the Mideast) turned out to be a disaster does not seem to have led the presidential aspirants (other than Rand Paul) to consider the possibility that any future war might likewise turn out to have what we euphemistically call “unintended consequences.” Here’s the key passage from Waldman:

It’s encouraging to see an acknowledgement that the Iraq War was a mistake finally become majority opinion in the GOP, given that it was probably the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in American history.

But before we make too much of that shift, we need to be clear that the actual substantive disagreements between the candidates are much smaller than it would appear if you were just tuning in now. Republicans may be criticizing Jeb Bush, but they aren’t coming at him from the left, and they aren’t actually turning their backs on most of what his brother represented.

That isn’t to say there’s no difference of opinion within the party on Iraq. Most former Bush administration officials will defend the invasion to their dying day and insist that it was a grand idea, whether there were any weapons of mass destruction or not. Those who have less of a personal stake in the war vary more in their opinions (of all the actual and potential Republican candidates, only Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum were in the Senate in 2003 and voted for the resolution approving the war).

It’s encouraging to see an acknowledgement that the Iraq War was a mistake finally become majority opinion in the GOP, given that it was probably the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in American history.

But opinions don’t actually vary all that much. All the candidates agree that we should increase military spending. With the exception of Rand Paul, all express an unrestrained enthusiasm for military adventurism. That’s one thing Iraq hasn’t changed: Republicans still believe that the application of military force is a great way to solve problems around the world.

The only difference of opinion comes after the first wave of bombing. Ted Cruz explicitly warns against nation-building, but he doesn’t express any reservations about the use of military force. Later today, Marco Rubio will give a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations about his foreign policy views, and they sound an awful lot like George W. Bush’s: increase military spending and spread American values with “moral clarity.”

Scott Walker wants to dump any deal on Iran’s nuclear program the moment he takes office, making military action there far more likely. So does Marco Rubio. None of the GOP candidates will say he wants to occupy Iran. But military action against the country’s nuclear facilities ought to be, as any of them will tell you, “on the table.”

Again with the exception of Paul, none of the candidates seems willing to grapple with the possibility that there are unintended consequences to military action that we need to be wary of. At most, they think the problems come only when you stick around too long after reducing a nation to rubble. And when you listen to them talk about Barack Obama’s foreign policy record, the word they use over and over again is “weak.” The problem is never that some situations we confront offer no good options, or that our decisions can backfire, or that there are places where America may not be able to set things right to the benefit of all. The problem is always weakness, and strength is always the solution.

Everyone understands why Jeb Bush is floundering around trying to answer the question of whether the Iraq War was a mistake from the beginning: It was his brother’s war. But neither he nor his opponents seem to have learned much from the experience, whether we’re asking about concocting phony intelligence to sell a war you’ve already decided you want, believing that all the “bad guys” in the world must be in cahoots, seeing every foreign policy question in black and white, or putting blind faith in the idea that “strength” is all you need to succeed.

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Comments (38)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/20/2015 - 02:35 pm.


    “But neither he nor his opponents seem to have learned much from the experience, whether we’re asking about concocting phony intelligence to sell a war you’ve already decided you want, believing that all the ‘bad guys’ in the world must be in cahoots, seeing every foreign policy question in black and white, or putting blind faith in the idea that ‘strength’ is all you need to succeed”

    It’s not so much a failure to learn much, as it is a determination not to learn anything. The Bush administration decided to invade Iraq. What was missing initially was argument capable of being convincing for doing so. So they concocted one. The argument didn’t have much to do with why they wanted to invade Iraq, but it didn’t need to. All it did need to do was be substantial enough to provide cover for others who for a variety of reason didn’t want to oppose the war. In retrospect, the concocted argument turned out to be faulty, but that hardly matters. Since it wasn’t relevant to what actually drove policy, it can simply be tossed away. Nothing can be learned from the argument itself because it had no substance to begin with. The next time our leaders decide to go to war, they will concoct a new rationale whose only requirements to be effective are to be moderately convincing to those who want to be convinced, and different enough from the last concocted argument for war such that it won’t be confused with it.

  2. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 05/20/2015 - 03:10 pm.

    “It was a mistake”…

    How do we send a message after-the-fact?

    If we could speak to the millions of dead

    sacrificed in Iraq; ours and theirs? Our soldiers…

    Iraqi men and women; children and babies too

    and tell them it was a mistake, after the fact?

    Do we raise a flag and memorialize a special day,

    and hope by god they can hear us through

    time and space, wherever?

    I wonder what they would say?

    “It was all worth it”?

    “Anytime brother”?

    “God bless”?

    “You got tol live with it”…

    That’s true.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/20/2015 - 05:01 pm.

    We won the war in Iraq

    But Obama lost the peace.

    The greatest foreign policy catastrophe in American history was not invading Iraq and taking out Saddam Hussein, which had the blessing of the UN and both branches of congress. The war was not only won, it was the most stunningly quick and effective execution of an invasion in the history of the world.

    It was Obama’s bungling of the peace that caused us to be where we are today. It was Obama’s abandoning of Iraq against the pleadings of the generals just so he could keep some unwise and dangerous campaign promise.

    There was no need to totally abandon Iraq. We have troops in countries like Japan and Germany who we defeated 60 years ago! What was the hurry other than to deliver on a political promise to people who are totally clueless in matters of war and peace?

    And Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during that entire debacle. Did she recommend to Obama that he withdraw all the troops against the recommendations from the military or did she just go along with Obama’s foreign policy catastrophe that is now playing out on the nightly news? Where is the demand for her answers to these questions in hindsight?

    Spend 2 minutes to learn what the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in American history really has been.

    Every nation in the middle east is in worse shape today than it was when Obama took office and Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. Iran’s going to acquire a nuclear weapon, Syria’s has re-deployed chemical weapons in a desperate attempt to avert Assad’s overthrow, ISIS has filled the vacuum in Libya left when Hillary Clinton insisted Kaddafi had to go. And in Yemen, Obama’s “success story” of how to fight terrorism, American diplomats scrambled to evacuate before they became victims of the “B squad.”

    And now yesterday we saw on the evening news of how 40,000 Iraqis have been forced from their homes as ISIS parades through Ramadi and the Iraqi army retreats in humiliation.

    The greatest foreign policy catastrophe in American history was electing Barack Obama.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2015 - 07:22 pm.

      It’s not much of a victory

      if you need to keep hundreds of thousands of troops there to maintain some semblance of peace.

      And we have troops in Japan and Germany, not to pacify them (that ended 50 or more years ago) but to protect them from bearish and aggressive neighbors. Spend two minutes and read your history.

      And if you believe everything that you see on Youtube, you’re the last person in the world over the age of five who does.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 05/21/2015 - 06:58 am.


        “And we have troops in Japan and Germany, not to pacify them (that ended 50 or more years ago) but to protect them from bearish and aggressive neighbors. Spend two minutes and read your history.”

        Doesn’t this exact argument also apply in Iraq though? Wouldn’t a continued presence in Iraq have lessened Iranian influence?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2015 - 09:00 am.


          The Iranians are not planning a military attack on Iraq–
          their odds are much better on the political-religious-tribal level.
          And on this level, our presence would strengthen their influence, not weaken it. We were never universally popular among all factions in Iraq.
          Again, the fallacy that the only effective foreign policy is a military one.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/21/2015 - 09:01 am.

          The government we set up in Iraq had close Iranian ties. Read all about it here…


          Most disturbing to many American foreign policy experts, however, is Iraq’s extremely close relationship with Iran. Today, the country that was formerly Iran’s deadliest rival is its strongest ally.

          “These are the wonderful consequences of our intervention — and the brilliance of it really is mindboggling,” said Chas Freeman, a Middle East scholar and critic of the neoconservatives. “The extent to which Iraq has become an active collaborator with Iran … is really very striking.”

          The U.S. is leading an intense international effort to pressure Iran to rein in its nuclear program. In January, the European Union agreed to join the U.S. embargo on Iranian oil, which went into effect this month.

          Rather than help the U.S. in these endeavors, however, Iraq is doing quite the opposite. Iraq has been critical of the U.S. sanctions against Iran, and some fear it will help its neighbor avoid the penalty’s sting by ferrying goods across their shared border.

          Another top Obama administration goal in the Middle East is to push Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive regime out of Syria. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside,” President Barack Obama said last August.

          But again, Iraq is working at cross-purposes to the U.S., decrying efforts to oust Assad and letting Iran use its airspace to ship weapons to Assad’s government.

          In fact, some Middle East scholars predict the rise of a Shiite Iran-Iraq-Syria axis, which could challenge Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Persian Gulf states for control of the region.


          Iraq under Saddam fought wars with Iran. Putting Saddam out of power and booting the Sunnis out of power brought Iran and Iraq closer together.

          Funny how that worked, eh ?

        • Submitted by Howard Miller on 05/21/2015 - 09:37 am.

          Iraq would not continue to shield US troops from prosecution

          Seems some people forget that the Bush Administration failed to get their hand-installed Iraqi leader to continue the shield against prosecuting US troops for their war actions in Iraq. Bush failed to secure that agreement, so when Obama inherited the Iraq mess from Bush, the Iraqi government had gone all-Shiite, excluding Sunni’s and Kurds …. and US troops would be subject to prosecution. Of course Obama pulled troops out. And the Iraqi army – trained by Bush folks for 7 years – collapsed and ran away at the first sight of ISIL forces, leaving their weapons behind for ISIL to pick up and use.

          The Iraqis – having lived through 7 years of no-security, no-effective public services, no-jobs, no-economy occupation administration by the Bush folks – did not want Americans around still. So the civil war that Paul Wolfowitz thought impossible (“there is no history of sectarian violence in Iraq” – PW quote) now rages on among Shiites, Sunni’s and Kurds. Iran’s influence has grown, ISIL is murdering everyone they don’t like …. and neo-cons and others of the “permanent base” crowd never articulate how keeping troops in Iraq longer would have improved on the 7 year dismal record of occupation posted by the Bush Admin. Some times the foreign policy options are only from bad to worse, despite neo-con revisionist history and thinking.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2015 - 07:31 pm.


      There is, of course, no nation of Iraq; nothing to defend.
      In today’s news, the Iraqi ‘army’ running from ISIL again and leaving another contribution of American war equipment. The Yasidis are being killed by American weapons.
      The only coherent military forces there are ISIL and the sectarian militias, who will eventually sort out who controls what.
      As I’ve pointed out before, the ‘nation’ of Iraq was created by the British and taken over by us — there’s no there there. Any Bush-style ‘nation building’ is doomed to failure — we finally have a President smart enough not to pour more lives and money down the rat hole of a losing battle.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2015 - 07:44 pm.

      more info

      For more details about the dysfunctional cock-up that the Bush Boys created in Iraq, see

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/21/2015 - 05:30 am.

      The peace was lost at the point we went to war. The whole point of 9-11 was to provoke America into a War Against Islam. When we decided to engage in that war, we gave Bin Laden with the results we are seeing today in the middle east.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/21/2015 - 06:29 am.

      …Every nation in the middle east is in worse shape today than it was when Obama took office…

      It’s a very neo-colonist outlook to think that it is the job of the US to run the world and that it is even possible in this day and age..

      It’s is nothing but a step to eternal war, and explains much of how we got to this point. The west’s attempts to pick and choose have poisoned the well of liberal democracy and provided no substantial difference from the days of colonial rule.

      You are also ignoring the vast distorting bump that the “Israel first ” policy of the past 50 years has played in igniting the fire.

      Just as the Tea Party represents the local US attempt to overthrow what is and to go back to an imagined golden past, so also are the movements back to the imagined tribal and religious golden days of the middle east.

      We have entered into a time where the resistance to global influences is peaking and Obama has little to do with it.

      It is an odd confluence of thought, the need to control the world, yet shake off the bonds of your own governmental and societal controls.

    • Submitted by Wm. Sweeney on 05/21/2015 - 08:22 pm.


      Won the war?? What the heck are you smoking?

      The U.S. realized a smashing military victory in 2003 and immediately initiated a series of missteps which led to the untenable situation which now exists in Iraq. The utter failure to plan for policing a devastated country after the military successes, a refusal to acknowledge the need for a much larger occupying force, and the appointment of an incompetent administrator opened the door for religious factions and fanatics to rip the Iraqi society apart.

      That post combat bungling on very fundamental operational matters started in April/May 2003. A power vacuum was created which allowed players with interests contrary to those of the U.S. to gain a military foothold in Iraq which has never been fully extinguished. The responsibility for this catastrophic situation does not lie with the Administration which took office in 2009.

      The responsibility for initiating a foreign war without a basic understanding of the country being engaged and without any credible plan for occupation or for rebuilding a destroyed society does not lie with the Obama Administration. The foundation of this mess lies elsewhere.

      There was no ‘peace’ in Iraq upon Obama took office. Obama has taken some missteps in a situation handed to him. But get real…he had virtually no chance of succeeding as we would expect ala a WWII victory. Th disparate elements fighting for control of this country had been given 5+ years to gain military strength in a country where the delivery of basic services by the government t was ‘iffy’ at best.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/20/2015 - 05:02 pm.

    What Kinds of “Warriors” Are These People?

    In her book “Awakening the Heroes Within,” Carol S. Pearson describes several levels of “Warrior,” based on their level of psychological health and adjustment.

    The lowest form of “Warrior,” the marginally healthy one, is one who fights only for themselves and those like themselves and fights with no other purpose but to win for “our side” (all rules can be suspended as needed – anything goes).

    The middling form of “Warrior,” a healthier form, is one who fights in a principled way abides by rules of a fair fight and fights for better circumstances and/or a better life for everyone concerned.

    The highest form of “Warrior,” the one demonstrated by those with the highest level of emotional and psychological health and adjustment, is one who fights only for what really matters in a broader sense, and never for personal gain, using as little violence as possible, and with a preference for diplomacy leading to honestly aired differences, win-win solutions and an increased sense of (worldwide?) community, none of which precludes doing all out battle when required.

    Beneath even the lowest form of “Warrior,” the level demonstrated by those suffering from dysfunction, are those operating by unconscious motivations as the result of having their attempts to demonstrate independence of thought and action in their earlier lives beaten down or beaten back (literally or figuratively) by those who were raising them. These SHADOW warriors are ruthless, unprincipled, demonstrate an obsessive need to win, and to conquer others, (inventing enemies to conquer if none are immediately available). They tend to view ALL difference as a threat.

    Shadow warriors NEED everything to be a battle. They feel constantly under threat and feel the need to be prepared to respond to those imaginary constant threats with maximum force. They far prefer to do battle and see diplomatic solutions as useless and weak.

    I’ll leave it up to the reader to identify which of our political leaders fall into the healthiest form of “warrior” class and which are (unconsciously) trapped in the lesser forms or the “shadow” form.

  5. Submitted by Victor Bloomfield on 05/20/2015 - 05:56 pm.

    Republicans and infrastructure spending

    This is not related to your recent essays, but it seems right up your alley. I’d very much like to see your take on the Daily Kos posting from last Friday:

    Thanks for your good work. Even though I’ve moved from the Twin Cities, I read Eric Black Ink daily for a dose of sound political thinking.

    Victor Bloomfield

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/21/2015 - 05:55 am.

      Infrastructure spending

      It’s not so much that Republicans oppose infrastructure spending as that they oppose raising taxes to pay for it. As a rule, Republicans are just fine with spending that benefits their constituents, but it’s really hard for them to find a way to prioritize spending which benefits someone else’s constituents. And without a willingness to do that, it’s difficult, to put together the legislative majority needed to get those infrastructure bills passed. That said, a fair amount does get passed once lawmakers find a way to put ideological considerations aside. Hence the bonding bill.

      Politics can be viewed as a dynamic of countervailing pressures For Republicans, they like delivering for their constituents as all politicians do, but they hate raising taxes, arguably because their financial backers are wealthy individuals for whom low taxes are a high priority. But there are countervailing pressures as well. As much as wealthy individuals hate high taxes, many have business interests that benefit from what those high taxes pay for. That helps to tell us why, in this small government, low tax, era, with it’s deep suspicion of boondoggle and waste, a Vikings Stadium is mysteriously appearing in our midst. One key is the presentation of a facade of bipartisanship. As much as many love to tell us about the wonders of bipartisanship, my own tendency is to believe that when the politicians are getting all bipartisan on us, it’s an excellent time to count the silverware. The bipartisan support for the war in Iraq in Congress is only one of the more chilling examples of that.

  6. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 05/20/2015 - 09:36 pm.

    Knowing what we know now…

    Knowing what we know now, was the Obama surrender of Iraq a mistake?

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/21/2015 - 07:18 am.

      Ha Ha, that’s Funny

      Surrender? What surrender? We set up a sovereign government, and when we asked them if we could stay, they said no. (Was it not a democracy we set up? Bush told us it was.) If one nation stations an army in another country without the occupied country’s approval, that is called an “invasion”.

      So much for being welcomed as liberators if we have to keep hundreds of thousands of troops there for years on end just to keep a lid on things.

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/20/2015 - 09:55 pm.

    What Republicans learned…

    …is, apparently, nothing.

    William Fulbright’s “The Arrogance of Power” still seems quite apropos to me.

    Beyond that, I think Paul Brandon has adequately critiqued Mr. Tester’s comment.

  8. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/21/2015 - 07:37 am.

    The Elephant in the Room

    All of the Repubs have latched on to a false narrative, and I don’t believe Mr. Black has mentioned it at all, unless I’ve missed it.

    The false narrative is “faulty intelligence”. It’s wasn’t the fault of the Bush white House. It was “faulty intelligence”. In fact, the Bush and Cheney were cooking the books. They were not looking for impartial reports, they cherry picked what they wanted, ignored what they didn’t, and even outright lied about Iraq and Hussein.

    The evil media seems to have forgotten they are liberal (as usual) and are letting the GOP candidates slide on this.

    “What we know now” is a crock. Bush and Cheney knew then, and they shouldn’t be let off as victims.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/21/2015 - 08:34 am.

      The real elephant in the room

      for this presidential campaign is that Hillary Clinton had a more direct role in the current situation in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iran than any of the GOP candidates yet they are the ones being asked to explain their view in hindsight on an issue they had nothing to do with.

      Assigning blame by proxy to Jeb Bush for agreeing with the actions of his brother is amusing when you haven’t bothered to ask Mrs. Clinton to explain her actions regarding Syria, or Libya, much less Iraq.

      When asked about the middle east, the GOP candidate should rightly ask the reporter, “What did Mrs. Clinton say when you asked her that question?”

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2015 - 05:56 pm.

        It shows the weakness

        of the current collection of Republican candidates
        when all any of them can say is
        ‘Hillary Clinton’ in answer to any question.
        This is called a fixation, and would be Hillaryous if this weren’t supposed to be one of our two major political parties.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 05/22/2015 - 03:34 pm.

        I think the real ‘elephant’ in the room is the fact that you can easily argue that in the contest between OBL/Al-Qaeda and GWB/US, Bin Laden won… and people are finally waking up to that fact.

        If you look at what Bin Laden wanted, to weaken America’s global and moral standing, to damage us economically, and to swell the ranks of ‘jihadists’ and terrorists around the world, especially in the middle east, that is EXACTLY what George W Bush & company gave him. He knew he could only do it with inside help- the help of an idiot-in-chief. OBL played George Bush like a violin… and then Bush decided to stop chasing him.

        I guess the closest comparison to what Bush did I can think of, is if FDR had decided to invade Australia while shipping oil and valuable war materiel to the Empire of the Sun after December 7, 1941.

        The thing is, if anyone else was president at 9/11, the Iraq war/rise of ISIL would not have happened.

    • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 05/21/2015 - 09:02 am.

      George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/21/2015 - 09:20 am.

    Democrats and Iraq

    I think Jeb is wrong a lot, but he was never more wrong than when he said Hillary Clinton would have invaded Iraq. That simply isn’t true. This was a Republican war, George Bush’s war motivated by his very personal view of the world. No Democrat would have waged war against Iraq, and I don’t think any other Republican president would have either. It was a fundamentally foolish policy choice made by a political dilettante.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/21/2015 - 09:56 am.

      Libya and Syria are Hillary’s wars

      Hillary Clinton called Syria’s Assad a reformer about the same time she was demanding that Kaddafi be removed from power, even though he was the only middle eastern dictator who had actually and voluntarily turned over all his WMD.

      Now Assad is using chemical weapons against his own people and ISIS has over-run a Kaddafi-less Libya.

      It’s safe to say that none of the GOP candidates would have been stupid enough to have done those things.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2015 - 03:48 pm.

        As Hiram Foster points out

        The Republicans would still have hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops tied down (and being killed in) Iraq and Afghanistan. So it’s not likely that they would have bothered with Libya and Syria.

        Again, ISIL (I prefer that acronym since Isis is a perfectly good god) is armed with American weapons donated to them by the troops of the Iraqi regime that Bush and Cheney set up.

        Is it true that the Iraqi army is going to field a track team in the text Olympics?
        That is, if they let them start at the finish line and run back to the starting line.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 05/21/2015 - 11:47 pm.

        Are you sure about that, Dennis?

        George Bush was stupid enough to topple Hussein in the first place. Like him or not, Hussein’s regime stabilized the region, and as despots go, he was run of the mill. There was absolutely no reason to lumber in, whip a little democracy on them (democracy that they didn’t ask for) and expect to not deal with a major sectarian uprising. You have it completely wrong. The greatest foreign policy blinder in this nations history wasn’t electing Obama …it was electing Bush and letting two, out of touch, aging neo-con chickenhawks like Rumsfeld and Cheney run the show.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/22/2015 - 06:16 am.

        The choice

        And that’s the stark choice that confronts, the trap Bin Lade so deftly laid. We know, or at least suspect, that should we elect Jeb Bush, we will be involved in an endless series of wars throughout North Africa and the middle east. Bin Laden will have his dream of a war between Islam and the west,

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/22/2015 - 06:27 am.

        It’s safe to say that none of the GOP candidates would have been stupid enough to have done those things.

        Oh I don’t know. Politics involves and may even require a lot of wishful thinking which can be reflected in what people say, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. There is a long list of Republicans saying nice things about evil people too. In terms of magnitude of error I wouldn’t compare the fact that Rumsfeld had pleasant meetings with Saddam Hussein with the decision to go to war with Iraq, for example.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/22/2015 - 09:35 am.

        Stupid is as stupid does

        Before we decide which party is inherently smarter regarding middle eastern dictators, let’s do a quick review of the history of US-Iraq relations over the past 40 years.

        Up until the early 1980s, relations between the US and Iraq were tense, if not hostile. The Ba’athist regime was deemed too close to Moscow, and when Jimmy Carter became President, its human rights abuses were highlighted. In the 80s, however, full diplomatic relations were restored, agricultural credits were granted to the regime, and the Commerce Department encouraged trade with Iraq. The US also supplied military intelligence to Iraq, even after it became known that Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran and against the Kurds.

        So you were saying about Republicans not being stupid about middle eastern dictators?

        • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/25/2015 - 06:17 am.

          Bad choices

          The Middle East seems to be a region with only bad choices. To choose, is to make a mistake. Not making choices is a choice too, and just as capable of being a mistake. As Rodgers and Hammerstein would say, “It’s a puzzlement”. One thing I am pretty sure of is that waging war on a people is not a good way of making friends with them, and one of the really baffling things about Republican policy is their utter failure to understand that most basic of with them facts.

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/26/2015 - 09:18 am.

    “Iraq would not continue to shield US troops from prosecution”

    That was sarcasm, right? You’re obviously playing off the irony of ISIS running wild through the country, slaughtering Iraqi citizens with abandon, with Obama’s feckless abandonment of the country.

    As a conservative that opposed the Iraq war from day 1, I have the unique opportunity to welcome my fellow Republicans to the truth of the war, while wondering when leftists will have their own epiphany regarding the failure of the peace.

    ISIS wouldn’t be using US arms and material in Iraq if the US Army were still in possession of it, in fact, ISIS wouldn’t exist at all. And the Iranians wouldn’t have their military commanders calling the shots.

    What a mess.

  11. Submitted by Jeffrey Brenner on 05/26/2015 - 06:37 pm.

    The Real Question

    The question that should be asked is what did America learn from the Iraq war?
    There is a collective amnesia about the run up to the war in 2002-2003. The majority of the public was for the war, even if the majority opinion now is that is was a bad idea.
    I remember being jeered and heckled at during anti-war protests. Guests on news programs that were critical of the war were not booked or given a short segment.
    I hope that America learns from the Iraq war not to so blindly run to war.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/27/2015 - 11:05 am.

    Non existent states

    The question that should be asked is what did America learn from the Iraq war?

    I am kind of amazed of what we don’t learn, and how easily we forget we have learned. Currently we learning that iraq isn’t a real country. How many times have we observed that, known that, and commented on that in the last couple several decades? How is it possible to be surprised each and every time it’s brought to our attention?

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