If We Could Go Back In Time, Ctd
Noah Millman goes another round:
The main reason we wouldn’t have simply packed up and left [Afghanistan] after (hypothetically) taking Osama bin Laden’s scalp is not that nation-building in Afghanistan was vital to defeating al Qaeda or ending the threat of terrorism, but that, our vulnerability having been demonstrated so dramatically, our response had to be grander than that. These guys had punched a hole in the greatest city in the world, and bombed the command center for our military decisionmaking. Whether a huge military response had any plausible war aims at all, we had to have one, somewhere.
That’s why I describe the situation as a tragedy.
Fouad Ajami rather baldly states that the war on Iraq was not about weapons of mass destruction or human rights, but about teaching "the Arabs" a lesson:
Those were not Afghans who had struck American soil on 9/11. They were Arabs. Their terrorism came out of the pathologies of Arab political life. Their financiers were Arabs, and so were those crowds in Cairo and Nablus and Amman that had winked at the terror and had seen those attacks as America getting its comeuppance on that terrible day. Kabul had not sufficed as a return address in that twilight war; it was important to take the war into the Arab world itself, and the despot in Baghdad had drawn the short straw. He had been brazen and defiant at a time of genuine American concern, and a lesson was made of him.