Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Iraq Was Then, Syria Is Now

Obama hasn’t a clue what he’s doing, but at least he isn’t George W. Bush.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

19 Thoughts on “Iraq Was Then, Syria Is Now

  1. Concise, understandable, devastating indictment of O and his administration’s foreign policy. I truly wish we had the clarity, frankness and moral strength to once again seize leadership of the free world. Evil is winning right now. It’s so obvious to anyone who opens their mind. In an age of instant disemination of information and tech advances hurtling at an unprecendented pace we are back in the 8th Century of enlightenment. The World needs US more than ever and yet we have become Orwell’s Animal Farm incapable of even helping ourselves paralyzed by pc and language.

  2. Rob Johnson on September 30, 2014 at 9:44 am said:

    Good article, but I think you are missing something about Obama. He is not stupid, incompetent, naive, or any of that. He is capable of seeing the results of his policies, and no doubt capable of weighing the outcomes before he acts. Remember, he is a smart, ruthless campaigner. He won two Presidential elections, and that is no small feat. He knows what he is doing. He is doing this deliberately. His goals are not the same goals you or I would choose for him. His goal is to bring the United States down from her high place in the world. To counter Israel with Iranian power. To move forward the goals of the Ummah. I am not saying he is a Muslim. He is not. He is, no doubt, an Atheist. He knows no other gods before himself. But he has a soft spot in his heart for Islam, and you can see that when he insists that the Islamic State is not Islamic. How much of the is just rhetoric, I do not know. I think he sees the results of his policies, though, and is pleased with his accomplishments. He doesn’t want to be remembered as a Great American President, so much as he wants to see American power and prestige reduced. He knows what he is doing. He is achieving his goals. That is why you won’t see any real change in his policies, no matter how much they may seem to back-fire on him. He doesn’t see it as a back-fire at all.

  3. jeff pendleton on September 30, 2014 at 10:18 am said:

    jftr…those are army troops, not Marines.

  4. A fair article… doesn’t give Bush a pass either. But regarding the last paragraph and last sentence about Obama: “… he so far has not lost American lives in the process — at least until the ascendant Islamic State flexes its global muscles.” I guess this doesn’t count the many “workplace violence” deaths in the US over the last few years, including the recent beheading in Oklahoma!

  5. Empress Trudy on September 30, 2014 at 11:37 am said:

    The issue for Obama is that everything is of an equivalence. Everything is everything and the point of that is strictly domestic politics. It could be Iraq or Syria. It could be climate change. It could be the price of tomatoes. It could Ebola or animal rights or volcanoes of domestic violence or Ferguson or just about anything that he can get on TV to pretend-rail about and then shake his fist that somebody somewhere is stopping him personally from solving it. But the goal, the only goal, clearly is domestic media driven politics: tomorrow’s poll, next month’s election, Sunday’s sound byte. And that’s it. Because he’s an empty suit, a campaign machine. That’s what he does. And what better way to campaign when you can synthesize your own issues to campaign on?

  6. john morrissey on September 30, 2014 at 12:02 pm said:

    Everything O says an/or does is consistent with a hidden agenda of promoting Islam and weakening the West. Starting as a teen ager and continuing today, there is nothing said or done which does not advance the Muslim. Is it an unconscious bias or deliberate is not easy to determine, but find one statement, one action which in anything which gets in the way of eventual Muslim dominance.

  7. Lauren R. on September 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm said:

    Thank you for this brilliantly illuminating trip down memory lane. I have bookmarked this article as a concise reminder of the reasons we went to war with Iraq. Your exposition of the dramatic differences in war policies of our two most recent presidents is devastatingly accurate. Wonderful!

    I said it 10 years ago, and it should be said again: George W. Bush is the only American president to adopt a practical war policy since WWII and the only president with a successful approach to the mess that is the Arab Middle East. The war that succeeds is the one that maintains an occupational force for many years after the initial defeat–perhaps even a decade or so–and oversees the transition to a secular (not religious) democratic republic with a constitution modeled after our own. If that is not our goal, we should not be waging war.

    President Bush’s iron-willed resolve to bring democracy to Iraq and name the Axis of Evil emboldened the freedom-loving youth of Lebanon to cast off the shackles of Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive Syrian presence in Lebanon. The moderates in the Arab World look to a strong America that does not tolerate fascist leaders like the Assads, Saddam Hussein, and the Islamic government in Iran. I have no doubt that a vibrant democracy taking hold in Iraq would have led to democratic revolutions in other Arab countries.

    Rob Johnson, you incorrectly mistake Obama’s ineptitude at governing for some kind of purposeful attempt to bring America low in the world. He is indeed an articulate and intelligent man but that has almost no relationship to skill at leading and governing. He has a different view from conservatives of America’s place in leading the free world but that doesn’t mean he’s actively trying to undermine it. Ineptitude can be just as damaging as a concerted effort to undermine our traditional leadership role in the world. That Obama can run a successful election campaign (with a lot of help from the Democrat party electoral machine) but be a feckless leader should come as no surprise. He had no executive experience before he became president. None. He’s a bright man but a lousy leader.

  8. Lauren R. on September 30, 2014 at 1:27 pm said:

    I meant to say “the war that succeeds IN ACHIEVING A LASTING PEACE is the one that soundly defeats the enemy and maintains an occupational force for many years after the initial defeat to oversee a transition to a secular (not religious) democratic republic with a constitution modeled after our own.” Going to war is the worst decision except when all the other ones have failed to achieve a lasting peace.

  9. Harry Taft on September 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm said:

    The incredible shrinking memory of the Democrats cited in this article would cause me to leave public service before my lapses could cause severe damage to the people I say I’m serving. Of course, in real life nothing of that sort is likely to happen. The blood of the dead and wounded are the real treasure that was spent in acquiring control over Iraq. The incredible short sightedness of the Obama Administration in failing to secure the SoF agreement with the equally short sighted, nay stupid Maliki government will come back to haunt us. I pray that historians will simply tell it like it happened.

  10. Graphic D on September 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm said:

    If an enemy signs a cease fire agreement and then shoots at your planes hundreds of times, doesn’t that mean that a state of war exists? I never understood the need for the WMD argument.

  11. Whitehall on September 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm said:

    You are far too easy on the cynicism and immorality of the Democrat Party. They voted for the invasion with enthusiasm but when the first bad news came in, they played on the fears of the American public in an utterly demagogic fashion.

    Their goal was not achieving American foreign policy objectives and making the Middle East a less dangerous place for American interests but in achieving electoral victory by any means possible.

    Others like Buckley were just too weak minded to stand against the stampede of public opinion generated by the Democratic Party.

  12. Theophilus on October 1, 2014 at 9:39 am said:

    Excellent digest on the Iraq situation as it stands today – thank you Mr. Hanson for your painstaking attention to details!

    While Congressional people have given many different rationalizations for why America should go to was with Saddam’s Iraq – I still did not buy it, since they did not perform the legal act of declaring war as prescribed by our U.S. Constitution. The acid test for me is simple, if congressional rationalizations are good enough for a resolution of war, why is it that they are not good enough to follow the U.S. Constitution and declare war officially. To me this is suspect. However, once we engaged in a war with Iraq, I proceeded to support it since I believe that when you commit to something you need to complete it!

    Unfortunately, I am afraid; I don’t think the intellectual nitwit in the White House knows the meaning of successfully completing a commitment once it is in force. Hopefully he can prove me wrong, since this would be the best outcome for our country.

    I totally agreed with one of the commentators assessment of the Democratic party and liberals in particular, their main thrust as an organization is achieving electoral victory by any means possible – the hell with everything else (morality, spirituality, legality, etc.) !

    The biblical pronouncement of people who don’t have the ability to make sound judgment and don’t care about the moral, spiritual and legal ramifications are people who minds has been seared with a hot iron (Romans 1:16 and following), definitely the ungodly ultra-liberals and their supporters are well entrenched in this mind set.

  13. David Park on October 1, 2014 at 9:46 am said:

    Perhaps the next election won’t be won by a smooth talking Ivy league educated minority political hack of limited real world experience and leadership who played to and received a winning vote combination of racism, white guilt, and hopes of quelling future tensions by a historical first. It is a failure just like the past background checks. There were and will be better possibilities in any color one desires.

  14. “He has not been able to square the circle of his own conduct, namely that his politically driven decision to leave Iraq may well have created the very conditions that led him to choose to get back into it.”

    Why isn’t this truth being shouted from every media outlet in the world? This is absolutely insane. All the suffering of our troops and so much of our treasure wasted. It is unbelievable that an American President can make such a horrific decision and still be in office.

  15. Gregory Hoy on October 2, 2014 at 8:52 am said:

    I greatly enjoy all of your articles. Regarding the 2003 Iraq War, please write a follow-up article that quotes in full the 23 writs that Congress approved in October 2002.

    The Left is constantly repeating that there was no justification or it was just WMD when, as you have pointed out, there were several reasons. Many of us on the conservative side need to see in print these 23 reasons with a translation or analysis of the lawyer-speak that accompanies each writ.

    Most importantly, how does each writ stand up to scrutiny in hindsight?

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