This morning on NPR, I listened to an interview with Tom Ricks a military journalist/analyst for the Washington Post (formerly of the Wall Street Journal). MR Ricks is also the author of Fiasco a handbook to the astounding pooch-screwing that was the Iraq War from 2003-2005.
Mr. Rick's primary points were as follows:
- President Obama is being naively optimistic if he believes that we can peacefully transition our troops out of Iraq by 2011.
- Iraq, upon the left-stage exit of the United States Military, stands a high probability of descending into either a genocidal bloodbath or a dictatorial, mini-Saddam style regime. This probability increases with each increment that our duration is shortened (for instance, staying only 19 more months will dramatically increase the odds of chaos versus staying 24 months).
- The Iraq War is most likely the worst foreign policy disaster the United States has ever involved itself in.
Ricks pointed out repeatedly that he had the impression from his travels in the United States, that the American people are simply sick of the war (particularly liberals) and that exit is worth any cost for the people in Iraq (up to, and including, Genocide there).
I think the interesting thing is to draw comparisons with Vietnam. For many people, Vietnam is the worst blunder the United States ever committed. But, it seems that view is largely based upon the number of U.S. deaths. From the standpoint of what we did to the "liberated" nation, we rarely make a qualitative comparison.
What I mean to say is that, in the end, Vietnam didn't really fare that badly. The North Vietnamese didn't rough the South up that badly (though many were indeed "re-educated" it was by no means a bloodbath) and by the early to mid 1980's, everything was getting back to a state of normalcy. By all accounts in Iraq though, the exit of US troops is going to end very, very badly. So, if you define the "disastrous-ness" of a US foreign policy adventure, Iraq seems clearly poised to become the hands-down winner in the long run as the worst fuck up every committed by the United States on foreign soil. I guess it remains to be seen, but the early indications aren't good.