What History Says About the Iraq War

Victor Davis Hanson has written an insightful article titled: What History Says About the Iraq War.

It provide some historical perspective I have not seen elsewhere.

I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

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0 Responses to What History Says About the Iraq War

  1. Peggy says:

    Hello David,
    Just to let you know, the link in your post is broken. .htm at the end, should be .html

    http://victorhanson.com/articles/hanson020806.html

    Thanks for sharing the article!

  2. GBGames says:

    I thought it was pretty good, but I wonder why there was talk about leaving certain enemies without a certain victory without talking about Afghanistan. Hanson talked about the US leaving Afghanistan after the Soviets left, but what about now? We did a great job, and maybe I missed it, but as far as I know Afghanistan has gotten worse after we focused on Iraq.

    Also, wasn’t Saddam Hussein running a secular government? One that Al Queda wasn’t too happy with? To refer to the effort to remove Hussein as a “powerful, multi-pronged effort to eliminate the nexus of Arab autocracy and Islamism” seems a bit of a stretch.

    Also, the UN hasn’t stopped a war…but hasn’t its existence helped open lines of diplomacy instead of forcing member nations to go to war? I think I would prefer the nations of the world organized together than having to go to multiple coalitions and individual nations whenever we wanted to talk.

    I think it is important to be able to defend ourselves, and I think it is important to have military and economic consequences for those who would attack us. Is it moronic and misguided to expect that if some parts of the world can become peaceful and law-abiding, then it is possible for the rest of the world to do so as well? Why must we just assume that war will always exist? I wasn’t convinced that just because it has existed that it will always be. The fact that American suburbanites are hard to convince that the world can be so violent and scary shows that you CAN get civilization to find such violence to be unneeded.

    The article seemed a bit elitist in its attack on those “elitist” people who are supposedly blind to the facts. Of course, I am idealist who would like to have people be honest about political debate rather than hope no one points out omissions. I’ve been called liberal AND conservative for it. Go figure.

  3. Sean Sharp says:

    I found that some of the author’s broad overall interpretations of history make some sense, but his application of them is very misguided. I also thought the article was very over-simplified.

    I don’t think it was the American people ignorant of the history of war, but the Bush administration. Iraq was/is doomed to failure because of one simple fact: it is impossible for a modern democracy to sustain the sort of commitment necessary to achieve victory in the type of conflict that is being fought in Iraq. To blame the American people for not supporting something that the administration sold to them as a quick and easy victory is absurd. I think the real story behind this is how tolerant and supportive the public have been after being fed a bunch of lies about why we went to war in the first place.

    Then to call Iraq a “success” is very blind and sad indeed. Wow, the largest military in the history of the world has the ability to overthrow a third rate dictator who has had his military crippled by 11 years of sanctions?–What an amazing victory. No, the real story is how the world’s largest military is being worn down by rebels with homemade explosives. We aren’t being militarily defeated per se, but we are now in a position where our ability to use military action to achieve our policies has been proven hollow. Iran and North Korea both see this I’m sure. The success is that a bunch of rebels have forced the US to rethink and reconfigure their military policies.

    From my point of view the article is just another attempt at justification for the current military misadventure in Iraq. Instead of admitting we made a mistake, the justifications of “we had bad intelligence and that’s been true before” or blaming the eventual defeat on the inability of Americans to back the war effort, which has been done before, is just sad to me. The author can’t square off with the failure of planning for a post Hussein Iraq and is trying to sell it otherwise.

    Still, I appreciate being pointed to these articles as I don’t seek them out myself. I think my sarcasm and disgust get in my way. Oh well. Enjoy the snowy weekend David, if it arrives as predicted. I just restacked the wood and filled the pantry with provisions. Time to hunker down perhaps. Cheers~

  4. It is difficult, when reading about emotionally charged subjects, to absorb the information provided.

    Too often, the mental tapes beging playing and we get a rerun of slogans thoughtfully provided by mass media to substitute for coherent thought.

    Victor Davis Hanson did not call the war in Iraq a success, in fact he made the point that the issue is still in doubt.

    His observation that it is hard to convince affluent suburbanites that shooting and bombing your way to power remains a norm in much of the world is bourne out by two of the earlier comments.

    The unfortunate truth is that democratic elections do not immediately produce democracy. The urge to redress ancient wrongs is still strong.

    In a culture like present day Iraq, the winners of an election can often see their rise to power as a mandate to finish off their ancient enemies.

    If you read Iraqi bloggers, you will see that many of them are depressed with the return to a repressive environment, instead of an enlightened one.

    Civilization is a process that requires compromise and sacrifice. It isn’t something that happens when all of your enemies are killed. Those who are using elections to gain power and eliminate enemies are practicing a savagery that is not curbed by negotiation.

    Our greatest national divide is between those who perceive madmen with nothing to lose as a threat and those who feel as Neville Chamberlain did in the 1930’s that negotiation will solve all differences.

    It will be interesting to see who is right this time.

  5. GBGames says:

    ***The unfortunate truth is that democratic elections do not immediately produce democracy. The urge to redress ancient wrongs is still strong.***

    Of course, anyone who would have said so when elections in Iraq were first taking place would have been considered “liberal” and giving “aid and comfort to the enemy”. It seemed obvious to me that elections aren’t the only requirement for democracy.

    The national divide you mention doesn’t seem to be the case here. No one is arguing that we want to negotiate with terrorists or madmen. No one was pushing for negotations with Hussein or bin Laden. I think people in general understand that you can’t negotiate with mad men.

    My argument is just that I don’t think war is always going to be around. Maybe it won’t be eliminated in my lifetime or any lifetimes soon, but it seems quite pessimistic to think that war will always be around. I understand perfectly well that “might makes right” in many parts of the world. I just take the more positive view that it won’t always have to be that way. I don’t think I fit cleanly into either of the polarized views you refer to.

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