Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Quote of the Day: Lessons of Iraq

My own (provisional) view is that the Iraq War tells us a great deal about the limits/costs of using large-scale military force in situations where the stakes are vastly higher for our opponents than for ourselves, a great deal about America's ability, or lack thereof, to transform dysfunctional societies through occupation, a fair amount about the limits of pro-democracy sentiment as a north star for policymaking, and a fair amount about the limits of American power, period. I think it tells us less than many liberals and conservatives think about the particular incompetence of Bush's war cabinet (though clearly it tells us something on that score!), less than many liberals (and some realists) think about the importance of international organizations and their utility for crisis management in high-stakes situations, and less than many progressives and paleoconservatives think about whether the U.S. should radically scale down its involvement in Middle Eastern politics, and more broadly abandon its informal-empire commitments around the world. -Ross Douthat

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