The War We’d Like To Forget

Ross Douthat calls the Iraq War “The War We’d Like To Forget.” He argues that American opinion on the war is set:

“Having spent the better part of the Bush era arguing foreign policy with a fury not seen since Vietnam, Americans have settled on a remarkably durable consensus: It was a mistake. We’re winning. Let’s leave. Each of these beliefs is contestable. But almost nobody — right, left or center — seems to have much interest in debating them.”

I think Douthat is right. Americans by and large seem to agree that the war was a mistake. The sad thing is, however, that I suspect that some of those same Americans never really understood why we went to war in the first place. If you ask folks about the case that the Bush administration made for war, you are more likely to hear canards than you are history. The President’s opponents were very effective at rewriting the narrative of events in the lead-up to the war. I still think that good people can disagree about the case that the Bush Administration made for war. I just wish that more people understood it.

In any case, Ross Douthat has an interesting take on this, and you can read the rest of it here.


  • Nathan

    From the Article, “But that’s because nobody — nobody — knows how Iraq will look once American combat troops are gone.”

    My father fought in Korea, a war they weren’t allowed to win either, just like this one. When combat troops become “keep the peace, don’t pursue the enemy soldiers,” you will always end up with this kind of situation.

    That’s why your supposed to count the costs before going! We have alomst 60 years, untold amounts of money and a large portion of our armed forces sitting on a pennisula (Korea) where the country we went to “protect” (South Korea) really couldn’t care less that we are there. We have a similar situation in Germany with NATO, which was by the way, an Alliance against the Soviet Union (which doesn’t exist anymore) and Europe couldn’t care less about us either.

    So, now we are going to do the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan? For how many years? The only thing that can said of this “war” is that our soldiers are not being subjected to the Vietnam era hostility.

  • Charlie Albright

    I find it incredible that so many people truly believe that Bush lied to get us in the war. Time and time again I hear people saying “Bush lied about WMDs to start the war.” It scares me that the American populous can be so clueless to the actual happenings of such major events in American history. What does it spell for the future when we have no knowledge of the past? And a past that is relatively not that long ago!?

  • Nathan

    Part of that perception Charlie is because we have been there since what, 1840? We beat the Germans and the Japanese in less than 4 years. The major event of our history in this “war” is that we have not completed what we supposedly were sent to do.

  • Nathan


    I understand what you are saying, but there are still troops dying in Iraq, while there were not troops dying after the end of the WWII or even the Korean War or Vietnam.

    We are not the world’s police department (in my opinion) although we have operated in that mindset for the last 60 years. The mindset of elongated a “war” leads to a public distrust and a lack of support. That’s why, as Charlie noted, people have forgotten the purpose.

  • Dallas SEO

    I’m with you Denny, I’m still astonished at the poor and twisted memory of most Dems and many conservatives regarding the war. Is anyone aware that there was just one war in Iraq? With a 12 year truce that was continually broken by Iraq?

    We accomplished several significant objectives in the Iraq war:

    1. We removed Iraq from an ally they invaded and secured our national security that was threatened by middle east unrest in a oil rich region.

    2. We let the rest of the world know that we mean what we say..kind of. Iraq continually broke a peace treaty for 12 years, shot at our planes, and attempted to assassinate our President. At this point we continued the war they started.

    3. We brought Democracy to the middle east, instead of an evil dictator with ambitions against the U.S., Israel, and ruling the entire middle east.

    4. We established a democratic ally in the middle east who could come in handy if we’re forced to fight Iran and is already helpful in our fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

  • Nathan


    With all due respect, your logic is hopeful at best. And when you connect the first Persian Gulf War with this one, you only fuel the fire that George II was attempting to save his father’s legacy.

    As you stated in your second point. We didn’t let the world know that we meant what we said, because the “war” is not over.

    We have not brought democracy to the middle east and it remains to be seen what form of government Iraq will move to once we are gone. If we have to leave thousands of troops behind to ensure that, we have accomplished little.

    We don’t know what kind of ally, if any, we will have with Iraq once we are gone. Iraq is helpful in our fight against the Taliban? How many Iraqi troops are there? Just because we currently control their airspace doesn’t make them an ally.

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