The accepted narrative nowadays seems to be that the Iraq war was a mistake but one made due to inaccurate intelligence.
But much has been written about how the George W. Bush administration, egged on by then Vice President Dick Cheney, cooked the books, ignored any warnings that intelligence might be inaccurate, and went into the whole thing with the preconceived idea that we must go to war with Iraq (we just needed an excuse).
The so-called neo-con movement had written a paper, what was it called? Project for a New Century. In that paper it was said we needed to take control of the Middle East and that we needed a Pearl Harbor to wake us up. And sure enough we got our Pearl Harbor in 9/11.
It was only natural that even though we were not attacked by Iraq, well Iraq was close enough so we just went to war with Iraq (that was where the precious oil was), and in fact put more resources and effort into that than Afghanistan, which we invaded first because that is where 9/11 was launched and supported from via the then Taliban government.
(And all our most of the attackers were from Saudi Arabia, our supposed friend, go figure.)
I’d have to go back and do some research but I am fairly sure that I heard at least one radio talk show host warn us that the Bush administration was hell-bent on going to war in Iraq and was overstating things about or misleading us on Iraq. He hammered on this night after night (he eventually discredited himself when it was discovered he was a sexual pervert).
But I do recall at the time before we invaded hearing people say: the president knows things we don’t know. It’s hard to believe that George W. Bush could know anything that most of us don’t know. But maybe they meant that he was privy to some special top secrets and that for some strange reason he could not reveal them. And I don’t exactly understand that. Never did. I mean I do get not revealing our sources to those secrets in order that they not be compromised and made useless in the future and put our friends’ lives in danger. But to simply say we know that Saddam Hussein has “weapons of mass destruction” but we can’t tell you where they might be or prove in any way how we could know this, we just know, take our word for it seemed a little suspicious to me at the time.
I’m surprised that Hillary Clinton fell for that. But I have read that maybe she felt she had to “man up” and vote to go to war.
But in defense of George Bush, kind of, I would say that there might have been some justification for taking military action against Iraq simply for not allowing U.N. inspections.
But Bush the candidate who proclaimed he had no interest in “nation building” nonetheless invaded Iraq and tried nation building himself and it was a total disaster. He and his successor have also failed in Afghanistan.
I have more than once written that we should not let Iran develop nuclear weapons. But perhaps our best tactic on that would be to improve relations with that nation. It seems there has been some positive movement on that.
The Middle East is home to culture or cultures that seem to defy our Western thinking. Trying to get them to model their governmental institutions after us with the idea that we will have better relations is problematic to say the least. Maybe we should quit trying.
Eventually people decide they want a better way of life. If they think we do then they might follow our lead. Maybe they don’t always think we do.
What I have written here is kind of a jumble I realize. What I am thinking, though, is that I would like to hear a candidate for president express the idea that we need to reform our ideas about international relations. We need to do our best to live and let live with the rest of the world but of course we have to consider our own defense foremost. If there are bad actors who threaten our own part of the world we have to deal with that as much as is practicable.
The alternative is to try to be the world’s policeman. It seems that this has over-taxed our resources.
And while I believe in cooperating with like-minded nations, I would definitely not be for some new world order in which we give up any of our own sovereignty (to some extent we have done that with the U.N. perhaps, but in a limited sense).
There are no easy answers.