Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, in his opening statement yesterday (PDF):

Mr. Chairman, as monumental as the events of the last five years have been in Iraq, Iraqis, Americans and the world ultimately will judge us far more on the basis of what will happen than what has happened. In the end, how we leave and what we leave behind will be more important than how we came.

Wow, that's so deep, isn't it?

But it's just absurd -- it's absurd to suggest that history or public opinion will ever separate the leaving from the arriving, sorting the consequences into two piles marked "Result of the Invasion" and "Result of the Withdrawal." The record will show that we made the country into a new kind of hell for years, and if it becomes yet another kind of hell after we withdraw, no one is going to say, "Well, yes, but that's entirely a result of the hasty, precipitous [presumably Democratic] withdrawal and has absolutely nothing to do with what the country was was like from the fall of Baghdad to the end of Bush's term."

I think this statement is based, in part, on the belief that, as a foreign policy actor, America is good, full stop -- or at least it's good as long as it's aggressively pursuing a "freedom agenda" -- and whatever we do with what we insist are the best of intentions can't really be that bad. According to this view, it's only when we question our pursuit of "freedom" that we can do harm. So withdrawal could be a disaster, but the last five years haven't been, because we're the good guys.

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