Bomb-crazy, “do something” neocons must be stopped — or Iraq will be Obama’s Vietnam
We have done enough harm. We’re not able to do good. We must simply admit the enormity of our mistake — and change
It is too soon to quote Reagan, much as one always longs to do so, and exclaim, “There he goes again!” But President Obama’s decision this week to dispatch yet more soldiers to Iraq prompts queasy-making memories of the early contingents of advisers and spooks Eisenhower sent to Vietnam after the French defeat at Điện Biên Phủ in 1954.
Obama started by sending 275 to 300 security, logistics, intelligence and advisory personnel in response to the lightning advance of ISIS militias toward Baghdad. Two weeks on, he is up to 750. We are still counting in three figures, but to those of a certain age this gives little comfort.
I do not like this one bit. The best to be said of Obama is that his foreign-policy inheritance seems to make him queasy, too. The worst is that he lacks the conviction, fortitude and political nous to do anything about it — and in this case to resist calls for yet a third intervention in a nation we have already turned from a hash into mincemeat.
These calls are too many. Sen. McCain, per usual, was quickest off the mark. Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker soon joined him on the Republican side of the Senate aisle. These guys want a bombing campaign on behalf of who can tell what. The Center for American Progress, one of those Washington “think” tanks where not much useful thinking gets done, wants Obama “to prepare for limited counterterrorism operations” against ISIS, including possible airstrikes.
It is a mistake to dismiss this as the stuff of unreconstructed militarists incapable of learning from history even if they have lived it, as McCain so bitterly did in Vietnam. Armed intervention remains the default position among the foreign-policy cliques, and there are no aisles to cross.