More flailing from the armchair general. Some points in return. Boot writes:
Sullivan thinks it’s impossible to imagine that we could have this sort of long-standing military presence in the Mideast without perpetual fighting. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that the U.S. already has a string of bases in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and other Middle Eastern countries.
Yes, er, countries. The little states that Boot mentions are essentially oil companies with territory. A few peripheral bases in Gulf states is not the same as 50 permanent bases in the sacred heartland of Islam. At least Boot acknowledged that our first attempt to station troops in a major Arab country with Islamic significance, Saudi Arabia, led to 9/11. And al Qaeda was and is motivated by Western occupation of sacred Muslim land. We may not agree with that theology but it's real. And if you want to keep the Jihadists recruiting, keep Western troops in sacred Arab Muslim land, as Boot wants. Then this lovely zinger:
The broader point is that the success of American military interventions has usually been closely related to their length. The longer we stay, the more successful we are.
We have been warned. Iraq for the next century! Then this canard:
I get the sense that Marshall and Sullivan, like many of their antiwar compatriots, don’t really care about whether we win or lose in Iraq. They simply want to get out, and damn the consequences.
No, we just want a sane response as to what "winning" means - and preferably in line with the war-aims of 2003. If it means disarming and deposing and executing Saddam, we have won. But if it means a permanent occupation of Iraq until no possible threat from there could ever emerge, we will be there for ever. That, we now discover, was the goal. Quite why we do not fully know. It cannot be an end to terror: that comes from everywhere, democracies and autocracies alike. We are left with oil, a misguided belief that the West's occupation of the Middle East will protect Israel, and, well, just because we can. None of these arguments is persuasive to me, when you factor in the enormous costs, drain on the military and absurdism of Iraqi political culture.
It's not our country; and it isn't threatening us any more. What right do we have to stay?