The Scars Of Iraq

A reader writes:

Your antipathy toward this intervention only makes sense to me in the context of the scars of the Bush years. Ask yourself, absent Iraq and the debacle of its invasion, whether you would support a no-fly zone to protect the citizens of Benghazi, as indeed you did to protect the citizens of Kosovo or the no-fly zone over Iraq after Gulf I. We have before us a truly international action, supported by a UN resolution, requested by the Arab League, and focused on protection of civilians.

You used to feature prominently on your website a quotation form Orwell: To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.

I suppose I am exhorting you to struggle.

Yes, I confess, the last decade is integral to my initial take on this new war. If it had been contemplated before 2001, I might well have backed and been moved by it. But being scarred by history is not inherently suspect. What I learned from Iraq and Afghanistan is the extreme difficulty of intervening in countries we do not understand and the limits of even the best military in the world to control events in other people's lands, driven by other peoples' concerns. It also remains a fact - and it wasn't a fact in 2001 - that the US is already involved in two wars and is bankrupt, with no sign of any political will to balance the books, including this president. Hence the skepticism.

By the way, why is my Iraq lesson more worrying than those who do not even refer to Iraq in this context? Every moment in history is different; and what failed last time could succeed now. But I prefer caution after a debacle, rather than pretending that the world began yesterday.