Iraq – Yesterday and Tomorrow

We humans have imperfect memories. Not only do we forget, we also misremember. When listening to the ongoing arguments about Iraq, it’s useful to think back to how things were before we invaded. Of course, we misremember and forget – but the Web doesn’t! I found this 2003 editorial from before the invasion instructive. The Economist reluctantly supported the invasion as the least bad of several bad options. Their opinion might have been different if they knew then what we know now. And our current opinions might be different if we knew now what we’ll know in 5 years. But since nobody has that luxury, we have to go with what we know.

I’m not sure why so many people fixate on the past. Sure, we can and should learn from the past, but all we can learn from Iraq is that knowledge is imperfect. We should be thinking about the future. At minimum, our presidential contenders should think about the future. I think both Obama and McCain have it wrong. President Obama won’t pull too many troops out if it leads to a resurgence of Al-Qaeda. McCain won’t leave too many troops for too long because the Iraqi government won’t tolerate it. The military and foreign policy path that either will be forced to follow is rather narrow and neither will stray too far off the path. The future of the U.S. in Iraq isn’t much of a political issue – and no one can do anything about the past.

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