BLAMING THE VICTIMS….Matt Yglesias rounds up some recent liberal hawk commentary and complains that too many people are evading the central issue of whether or not we should withdraw from Iraq. He’s right. But he also says this:
Peter Beinart complains that “across ideological lines, American politicians and pundits are finally coming to a consensus on Iraq: It’s the Iraqis’ fault” and concludes that “If we need to leave; we need to leave. But let’s not pretend the defeat is anyone else’s but our own.”
….On the issue Beinart raises, I agree with him. The “blame the Iraqis” account of the war is somewhat offensive and factually misguided. That said, it’s a lot less misguided than continuing the war.
That’s also right, but it leaves out an important piece of the story: the reason we need to leave Iraq. As Matt himself pointed out a year ago in “The Incompetence Dodge,” the main argument for withdrawal is a simple acknowledgment that the U.S. military can’t solve Iraq’s problems ? and never could. As he put it, “No simple application of more outside force can make conflicting parties agree in any meaningful way or conjure up social forces of liberalism, compromise, and tolerance where they don?t exist or are too weak to prevail.”
Now, there’s unquestionably a thin line between acknowledging the reality that the “social forces of liberalism, compromise, and tolerance” are weak to nonexistent in Iraq, and blaming the Iraqis for this lack. But the fact remains that it’s this very intractability that explains why the U.S. should be so cautious about using military force to try to solve problems in the Middle East. If it were otherwise, even an incompetent intervention wouldn’t have produced quite the disastrous results that we’re trying to extricate ourselves from today.
Make no mistake: what’s happening in Iraq is the fault of the United States. We just shouldn’t allow that plain truth to obscure other truths that are equally plain. Otherwise we’ll end up making the same blunders all over again a few years from now.