Responding to my post below about Lawrence Kaplan's revalation, Atrios says I've missed the real thrust of Kaplan's post. Kaplan isn't so much admitting failure or error, he says, as he is providing a rationale for a new policy moving forward which Atrios describes, more or less, as, They're unredeemable barbarians so let's just kill them all.
That may well be the case. I'm not sure what Kaplan's forward policy is. My point is to tease out what he's now forced or willing to concede about how we got into this mess.
But this does raise a related issue I'd like to pursue -- one that connects the neocons' folly on Iraq with their failure, discussed earlier, on the Korean peninsula.
Put simply, do we not detect a pattern in which the foreign policy neoconservatives strike out boldly on some foreign policy adventure, flop right down on their faces and then present the cause of their undoing as a novel insight wrestled from the maw of history when in fact, to everyone else except for them, this 'insight' was completely obvious and predictable from the start?
Kaplan says that America can't contain the Iraqi's "sectarian rage" nor "reprogram [the Iraqi's] coarsened and brittle cultures." As Louis Menand put it in The New Yorker, quite relatedly, when reviewing Francis Fukuyama's richly articulated discovery that regime change and preemption might not have been such a royal road to peace and democracy, "No duh!"
I mean, this was the whole premise of pretty much everyone who said that Iraq might be a hard place to 'democratize' by invading. Non-diversified economy based on natural resource extraction, lethal sectarian divisions in a country bundled together by the British. It was pretty much the conventional wisdom going in that it was only brutal dictatorship that held the place together.
Now, this is admittedly a dark, pessimistic view. One might simply say that Iraq has a history of sectarian conflict which makes it a challenging candidate for instant democratization. Or you might say that others have tried to run the place (namely the British) and had a rather tough time of it.
In other words, you can organize these facts along realist lines or anti-Imperialist lines or nationalist lines. And at the end of the day it all comes down to the same basic rub -- that Kaplan presents as something new under the sun what everybody else knew was obvious and was trying again and again, but alas in vain, to tell him and his buds four years ago.
Like Menand says, No Duh ...
Coming later, How is this all different from the Balkans? They don't get along there either, do they?