Foreign Legions

At the beginning of this web video, Michael O'Hanlon explains that the current pace of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan isn't sustainable. He also notes that the situation in Iraq is "nowhere near an acceptable or sustainable outcome." Under the circumstances, one might think that giving up on the Iraq operation in order to focus on Afghanistan in a sustainable way would be a good idea. But, of course, O'Hanlon believes we need to continue the war in Iraq indefinitely, even though he knows that such a policy isn't sustainable.

The solution, naturally enough, is foreign mercenaries. As he puts it, we need to go into "countries that have a fairly strong pro-American tendency and a very minimal al-Qaeda presence" and try to get their citizens to sign up, with the lure of U.S. citizenship offered as the bait. He gave the Philippines as an example (indeed, as many as 41 percent of Filipinos regard our military presence in the Middle East as bolstering stability, which is unusually high), and said that Donald Rumsfeld would go down in history as a bad Secretary of Defense specifically for his failure to implement a program of this sort. My feeling is that when it comes to this is when we can officially say that the American imperial project in Iraq has reached its decadent phase.

I mean, isn't this almost a self-refuting argument? According to Michael O'Hanlon, the only way to have any chance at accomplishing our mission in Iraq is to bolster our military by recruiting large numbers of foreigners into our armed services and this becomes an argument for recruiting the foreigners rather than ending the war. Really?

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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