Friday, January 12, 2007

All Over Again

[posted by Callimachus]

Daniel W. Drezner thinks we've been here before:

[W]hat Bush is proposing now is exactly what happened in Vietnam, Beirut and Somalia.

In each case:

1) The United States suffered a pivotal attack that altered their perception of the enemy (the Tet Offensive, the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, and the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident);

2) The American response at some point after the attack was a show of escalation, not de-escalation (Nixon/Kissinger escalation in Vietnam, naval and air bombardments in Lebanon, six-month force expansion in Somalia);

3) After this display of strength, the U.S. withdraws;

4) Despite the increase in forces and retaliatory attacks, everyone recognizes the withdrawal for what it was.

I see very little reason to go through this charade again.... but I'm willing to listen to commenters who disagree. To them, I must ask -- how with the surge option be anything other than a more grandiose version of the Clinton administration's response to the Somalia bombings?

Much good stuff in the comments, too, as is typical on this site. Creighton Abrams is referenced. And this essential reminder:

People who think the situation in Iraq is so bad should consider that it wouldn’t take much for it to be exponentially worse. The United States could be on the verge precipitating genocide – not by invading, but rather by invading, toppling an existing government, and not having the fortitude to stay until a new government could maintain security.

I will probably be heading back to Iraq in the fall, and am not really looking forward to it, but I wish people would stop making it sound like Passchedaele. It is a very challenging insurgency, but it will be much better for the U.S., Iraq, the region, and the world - much more humane, in the long run - if the U.S. resolves to win what will clearly be a protracted struggle in Iraq.