Saturday, November 19, 2016
The truth is that throughout the election, neoconservatives like Cohen preached the same misguided ideas that led to such fiascos as the Iraq War. But the American public rejected the war and Trump, in the South Carolina primary debate, appealed to the GOP base when he said that the war was a disaster. For all of Cohen’s huffing and puffing about the utility of “hard power”—by which he means systematically killing other people—the war in Iraq is nearly universally acknowledged as a strategic failure that only ramped up the national debt, killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis, and helped foster the environment in which ISIS and jihadists now thrive. This is the threat environment that America faces in the Middle East—a rising China, resurgent Russia and emboldened Iran are icing on the cake. Through the cavalier foreign policy prescribed by Cohen and others, the United States now faces increasingly sophisticated and aggressive foes. Why should the decisionmakers who pushed such misbegotten policies have any clout in a Trump administration? In his foreign-policy speech in April, Trump specifically indicated that he wanted to move on from the Washington establishment types with good resumes and failed records that have brought America to grief in the past.
The Iraq War, in retrospect mind you, looks like it was a bad idea. But the whole country was in shock from 9/11. I admit however that they started losing me when it turned out Saddam did not as promised harbor a cache of WMD's aimed at us. Probably it is best to judge the invasion by the NYT v. Sullivan standard of showing "a reckless disregard of the truth" rather than lying; it still meets the standard of actual malice. Our transition government also turned out to be transitory, although it did employ quite a few neo-conservatives. This would have been forgivable if what I would call my neo-con friends, if I had any, had shown any remorse, but they showed absolutely none, and simply wanted to expand our invasions. This seemed unjustified, even taking the usual score of each non-American life being worth 1/10 or so of an American life. None of this is meant to excuse our soon to be former President of mysteriously coddling the Iranians. Either this was mere blundering stupidity on his part or something that follows from his, call it anti-American ideology, but I don't see quite how. Hence I fear we must give stupidity its due.