Was it a mistake to defeat Hitler because it paved the way for a lengthy, costly, and bloody Cold War?
Was it a mistake to defeat Japan because it led to a revolution in China and bloody Maoist rule and a war on the Korean peninsula in the wake of the "stability" we removed from Korea by defeating Japan?
Sure, that seems kind of silly. But if you said yes to both, you could get tenure and insist that George W. Bush is at fault for the current crisis in Iraq:
For University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole, events in Iraq are "an indictment of the George W. Bush administration, which falsely said it was going into Iraq because of a connection between Al-Qaeda and Baghdad."
"There was none," said Cole, an outspoken opponent of the invasion.
But by occupying and "weakening" Iraq, the Bush administration ironically created conditions that allowed Al-Qaeda "to take and hold territory in our own time," he wrote.
We had many reasons for going into Iraq, as the Congressional declaration of war set forth.
The only connection between al Qaeda and Saddam noted is this:
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq[.]
Note that the reason does not say Saddam assisted with 9/11. But following the overthrow of the Taliban, members of al Qaeda found refuge in remote Kurdish portions of Iraq where they drew supplies and support from both Iran and Iraq.
Further, indicting the overthrow of a bloody, cruel, and threatening regime requires you to say that the horrible regime was a good thing by being so awful that it suppressed (that's a mild word for the evil Saddam inflicted) the majority of the population of Iraq.
And it requires you to say that if we had to invade we should have simply lopped off Saddam and kept the entire machinery of repression in place to keep different Sunni Arabs in charge of Iraq where they could oppress the majority.
This charge also requires you to forget that we smashed al Qaeda, reconciled the Sunnis and Shias through the Awakening, and rebuilt Iraqi institutions with the majority dominating the government and left the country so peaceful that the Obama administration boasted of how good things were going there, and that al Qaeda was dead.
Honestly, when President Obama took ownership of our success in Iraq, do you really think he was attempting to own the direct cause of the current crisis? (Tip to Instapundit)
Your memory would also have to be jogged to remind you that Bush engineered a post-surge American presence that he fully expected President Obama to continue in order to defend the gains of the invasion. President Obama did not push for an agreement in his haste to get out.
I swear to God, people. There are no silver bullet solutions to problems. You solve one and others pop up.
Like when we overthrew Khaddafi and then had to cope with a chaotic Libya that attracted jihadis, continues to send refugees into Europe, and which spilled over into a jihadi-supported Tuareg revolt in northern Mali. Just to name an example at random.
This type of thinking should not be an excuse to leave a Hitler in place. It's a reason you don't assume all is perfect and walk away after you get rid of that Hitler or reasonable likeness of one.
No, you work the problem. In the Hitler case, we camped out in Europe to quietly wage a Cold War where we still are nearly 70 years after World War II--and where we are working on a new problem, post-Cold War, of a revived and aggressive Russia.
The Bush Derangement Syndrome is strong in Cole. I don't know what aspect of 11th century pickled olive trade he is a recognized expert in, but the man is not qualified to inform us of anything to do with foreign policy and military history.
You want a history lesson in more recent indictments of an administration for the current crisis in Iraq?
Right now, Iraq is in crisis because Iraq is weak, Iran is interfering, and the Syrian Revolution is spilling over into Iraq.
The Obama administration failed to keep significant American troops in Iraq to be the foundation of building a new democracy. Our presence would have allowed us to monitor the Iraqi military and provide advice to keep support functions running and continue to grind down the remnant al Qaeda.
These American troops would have been a safety net assuring factions in Iraq that politics and not violence would settle political disputes. Our presence would have kept Iranian influence at bay and reduced the sectarian friction, keeping the Iraqi state more stable and capable of addressing rule of law issues.
The Obama administration in 2009 stiff-armed the pro-democracy uprising in Iran in an attempt to gain favor with the mullahs. The Green Revolution was crushed and Iran under the mullahs remained free to undermine Iraq (which we would leave less than two years later) and free to support Assad in Syria when revolution broke out there.
The Obama administration failed to support non-jihadi rebels in Syria when revolt broke out there and when Assad was at his weakest and vulnerable to defeat. Instead, mullah-run Iran provided a lot of support that allowed Assad to hang on and kill large numbers of people to hang on. And this war drew in jihadis to revive the once discredited jihadi movement that was broken in battle by our forces in Iraq and shown to be beasts and--more importantly--losers.
When revolt dragged on in Syria, Iraq was so weakened without American troops present that they could not resist Iranian pressure to allow Iran to resupply Assad in Syria through Iraqi air space and territory--and recruit Iraqis to fight for Assad. Had our troops been there, no Iranian supplies would have gone that route, greatly complicating Assad's ability to survive the revolution.
These jihadis in Syria spilled back into western Iraq where they revived the Iraqi jihadis to a greater degree than they had already in the worsening situation brought about by our absence in Iraq.
And now we have a revived Iran freed of some sanctions--and cocky as they see a nuclear deal with President Obama to ratify their programs coming--strongly supporting Assad who is killing his way to survival while al Qaeda jihadis builds a caliphate across Syria and Iraq.
All this under President Obama's purported enlightened leadership and vision for a better world. He gave a friggin' outreach speech in Cairo, for God's sake! It was awesome! Like Bush gave any speech we remember! Hah! This crisis has to be Bush's fault. Not Obama's!!
So yeah, it's easier to cry out "BUUUSSSHHHH!!!" and perhaps even "Haliburton!!!" and enjoy the waves of fever as the dormant BDS goes out of remission. Oh ... sweet, sweet hatred ... They'd forgotten how superior it made them feel.
And spittle. Lots of frothy spittle, Mustn't forget that.
No, no. Your precious Obama didn't eff Iraq up by just walking away from the hard-won successes (or rather he pivoted away--to the Pacific) of the Iraq War that Bush led from the front to win, making good on the Clinton-era law that made regime change in Iraq our official objective.
No, Bush should have just left that "stabilizing" Saddam in power. Then all would have been well. Except for the people of Iraq who would continue to die in various ghastly ways (including poison gas) and suffer under his arbitrary rule.
And except for whatever neighbors would have suffered his attention as Saddam strove for glory befitting his glorious stature that history must recognize.
Other BDS sufferers are also quoted. But you get the idea. Buuuuusshhhhhhhhhh!!!!
History does not stop. There are no magical solutions to problems that lift the burden of solving problems forever.
Or are you willing to say that the current Arab-Israeli conflict could have been avoided if we had just left Hitler in power to slaughter Jews; and if Britain and France hadn't abandoned their Middle Eastern colonial rule which allowed Israel to be born from the refugees of Hitler's Germany and which gave birth to hostile Arab nations to fight Jews and each other since they became independent?
BDS really can't be cured, can it? Expect to see a lot of it in the weeks ahead if Iraq goes fully belly up.
Which I don't expect. The Middle East is bad, but the situation is serious rather than desperate. Work the problem, people. Even the Obama administration could act enough to stem the tide of reversals we are experiencing.
President Carter managed to catch a dose of reality. I remain hopeful that President Obama could, too.