As usual, he gets it about right:
So the Americans are bowing out, having achieved few of the ambitious goals articulated in the heady aftermath of Baghdad’s fall. The surge, now remembered as an epic feat of arms, functions chiefly as a smokescreen, obscuring a vast panorama of recklessness, miscalculation, and waste that politicians, generals, and sundry warmongers are keen to forget.
Back in Iraq, meanwhile, nothing has been resolved and nothing settled. Round one of the Iraq war produced a great upheaval that round two served only to exacerbate. As the convoys of U.S. armored vehicles trundle south toward Kuwait and then home, they leave the stage set for round three.
Call this the War of Iraqi Self-Determination (2010–?). As the United States removes itself from the scene, Iraqis will avail themselves of the opportunity to decide their own fate, a process almost certain to be rife with ethnic, sectarian, and tribal bloodletting. What the outcome will be, no one can say with certainty, but it won’t be pretty.
One thing alone we can say with assurance:As far as Americans are concerned, Iraqis now own their war. “Like any sovereign, independent nation,” President Obama recently remarked, “Iraq is free to chart its own course.” The place may be a mess, but it’s their mess not ours. In this sense alone is the Iraq war “over.”
He concludes by saying that we leave Iraq, “having learned nothing.” Isn’t that right? If we had learned something, would we be continuing our folly in Afghanistan? And if we were capable of learning from wars, why did we enter Iraq with an unclear, always shifting mission, too few troops, and strange, unrealistic ideas of the influence of Iraq on our battle with Al Qaeda? Clearly, some lessons from Vietnam were either forgotten or were never learned in the first place.
Of course, this makes some war boosters uncomfortable, so we get this:
But honestly, does anyone out there see a U.S. administration ever embracing the kind of neo-isolationism that Bacevich is apparently demanding? And is it just me, or is he crankier than normal lately?
I don’t know if any administration will ever embrace neo-isolationism, but it’s worth trying. And after almost a decade of wasted lives and the amassing of more than a trillion dollars in debt, we should be pretty goddam cranky. (via)