Make Politics, Not War, in Iraq

The United States is once again learning the limits of military power. In Iraq, America has unrivaled control of the air, but can’t hold the ground. Its mere presence incites violence.

While President George W. Bush believes that he has protected Americans by “taking the war to the enemy,” more than 1,700 Americans have died in the Iraq war, which also has provoked terrorist attacks on US allies. The horrific London bombings probably were inspired by Britain’s co-leadership of the war.

The Bush administration’s mistake, of course, is to neglect politics in its war calculations, or to follow blindly the dictum that war is politics by other means. In fact, most war is a failure of politics, a failure of political imagination. Given their self-righteousness and lack of historical and cultural awareness, Bush and his advisors believed that invading Iraq would be easy, that Saddam Hussein’s military would crumble, and that the US would be welcomed as a liberator. They failed to comprehend that Iraq has long been an occupied and externally manipulated country.

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