"Fool me - you can't get fooled again."
We can't? Well, in any event, shame on us if we do.
Let us please, please just agree that, when we ponder the relative merits of the next war (oh please don't let it be in Iran,) we will consider just how attractive this one sounded, when its proponents plugged it three years ago.
In a 2003 Newsweek article entitled (note: not punch-lined) "Why the War was Right," Fareed Zakaria argued. . . well just that. He valiantly contended:
Iraq was a threat, but more important, it was an opportunity. "A pre-emptive invasion of a country gives one pause," I wrote in [my]August 2002 column, "but there is another massive benefit to it. Done right, an invasion would be the single best path to reform the Arab world.In a previous Guardian article, we find similar sentiment, but (as the article was written pre-war) with the warning from the author, Jason Burke:
But to create anything close to a stable, relatively democratic, prosperous Iraq will require enormous political attention and financial aid. The Unites States, as events in Afghanistan are showing, is not very good at providing either. A sustained postwar programme that forgoes the cynicism and self-interest which has dominated US and British foreign policy for so long will [. . .] be an answer to the Islamic fanatics;Yeah, no kidding there. And, as it turned out, Mr. Burke's warning about Iraq proved all too insightful. (As the International Herald Tribune grimly lays out in this fine piece.)
Those considering the possibility of war with Iran will certainly argue that the case for action against that country is different - different than the case for the Iraq war was. And the troubling thing is that it truly, truly is. Iran has more than twice the population of Iraq, much more land area, and an army not currently ailing from a decade of sanctions, as was Saddam Hussein's.
Even if Iran is seeking to develop WMD's, ought we not at least wait until they aim them at us to strike at them? And as to the concern of their passing bombs they have made on to terrorists, I think that the fear of U.S. retaliation would still be a considerable check against such activity. Were there a nuclear detonation on our soil, its chemical signature would enable us to tell the place of its manufacture, presuming we have good intelligence about the Iranians' manufacturing processes. A mere threat of a-bomb-for-a-bomb ought to be enough to deter Tehran from making such a terrorist-launched preemptive strike.