Monday, August 11, 2008

More Roads to Iraq, Less to Munich

For American neo-conservatives, all foreign policy roads lead back to Neville Chamberlain's "appeasement" of Hitler at Munich. Saddam Hussein was about Munich, Iran is about Munich, North Korea is about Munich, and Hamas and Hezbollah are all about Munich as well. Thus, it's no surprise that neo-cons like Robert Kagan and William Kristol responded to Russia's invasion of Georgia with well-worn "Munich analogies."

But now there's a rival analogy--the "Iraq analogy" that threatens to make Munich even less valid as a historical analogy than ever.

Let me explain.

Part of the reason Hitler's Germany could invade nation after nation was that the Nazis could not imagine that a "successful invasion" would entail so many costs that it would be a disaster for the invader.

After the American experience in Iraq, that's no longer possible.

Invading and taking over Iraq was easy. But occupying Iraq has been enormously costly to the U. S. in terms of military resources, domestic unity, and international prestige. Bogged down in Iraq, the Bush people had to give up their ambitions to invade Iran, Syria, and other Muslim nations and ended up barely being able to carry the Iraq occupation forward over domestic opposition.

The U. S. has been so weakened by the Iraq occupation that there has been no idea of responding to the Russian invasion of Georgia with military force. Or penalyzing the Russians at all.

However, the Iraq analogy applies to Russia as well. If the Russian government actually tries to enact a full take-over in Georgia, it's easy to imagine that the Russians will be the ones badly weakened by all the effort it takes to sustain the occupation.

In other words, if the United States really learns from the lessons of Iraq, we won't really mind if our big-power rivals like Russia and China to invade annoying little countries like Georgia.

That way, they'll end up bleeding themselves dry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doing the same thing over and over again hoping for, expecting, believing that a failed course of action MIGHT work this time.