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Planned Chaos


from Iraq War Regrets in The National Review, a compendium of analysis.

Michael Pakaluk

The term for the main virtue of practical intelligence, prudence, comes from a contraction of the word for foresight, “providentia.” So it should cause no surprise that in prudence, we should think about Iraq using two clear-headed statements from the past.

The first is Colin Powell’s “If you break it, you own it” statement. Expanding on the idea in 2002, Powell said, “You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems.” Such a statement is implied by basic principles of responsibility. Once the U.S. intervened in Iraq to the point of becoming for a time its de facto sovereign authority, it would be responsible for Iraq’s future course until it developed an independence and sovereignty that were free and clear of that intervention. But in reality, Iraq never did develop that sort of independence; it was merely asserted to have done so on political grounds and given certain interests.

The second statement is John McCain’s famous one that the U.S. might need to be a police force in Iraq for 100 years or more. In making the statement, McCain was rightly bearing in mind our responsibility to Iraq. He explained: “Both Senator Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal — that means chaos, that means genocide, that means undoing all the success we’ve achieved and al-Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America.” We have seen chaos; we have seen genocide; and we have seen the undoing of everything that was achieved, exactly as McCain warned.


In order for a war to end you must fight as if it will never end.  Our impatience is our biggest handicap.  Perhaps it would be different if it was fought on our soil. On their soil our enemies have all the time in the world.

For a war to end you must fight as though it will never will.

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Trust Them This Time


From Erick Erickson in Townhall, The Continued Farce:


In the United States today, more and more publications refuse letters to the editor from skeptics of global warming. As the world stays in this plateau of no warming, which we have been in for 17 years, the left works harder to silence dissent.

In A.D. 325, Emperor Constantine convened the First Council of Nicaea to establish the parameters of Christian doctrine. St. Nicholas, before passing out presents to children, attacked Arius, an Egyptian cleric who embraced heresies in the Council.

Two thousand years later, the secularists have convened their own Council of Nicaea under the rubric of the IPCC to set the parameters of their secular religion. But instead of Santa Claus attacking heretics, the left has journalists attacking a skeptical public as “holocaust deniers” for daring to be skeptical of moralistic crusaders who have caused the deaths of many and been wrong so often in their environmental and scientific prognostications. But trust them this time.

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Liberal Trickle Down

kevin williamson

Kevin Williamson writes Blue Voodoo in National Review.


The point of rehearsing this history is not to determine whether traditional supply-side thinking on economic policy is true or false, but rather to show that it is something fundamentally different from the trickle-down caricature offered by the progressives and others generally hostile to the idea of a smaller federal financial footprint. But that is not to say that “trickle-down” is an idea without adherents, a banner without partisans marching under it. Perversely, those advancing trickle-down ideas are mostly the same ideologues who denounce “trickle-down.” But they do not call it trickle-down — they call it “stimulus.”

The important point here is this: The argument that the government should spend on infrastructure because a certain piece of infrastructure is needed is one kind of argument; the argument that government should spend on infrastructure because doing so is good for the economy is a different kind of argument — specifically, it is a trickle-down argument.

If you doubt that, ask yourself: What kind of firms get federal contracts? Do you think any of those unhappy people in Ferguson, Mo., own firms that are in line for Department of Defense or Department of Energy contracts? Do you think impoverished Appalachian pillbillies are in the running for upgrading Treasury’s computer networks? If so, I have a bridge I’d like to build you at a very reasonable price.

Federal contracting is dominated, as one would expect, by large firms, often the dreaded multinational corporations of angsty soy-latte-liberal legend. Call the roll: In first place, we have Lockheed Martin, followed by those poor, Dickensian waifs at Boeing, who would be bereft without the support of the Export-Import Bank. Then we have the plucky upstarts at Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Raytheon. And, lest Wall Street feel left out, Cerberus Capital Management comes in at No. 11. Deloitte, Rolls-Royce, and our friends at the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation all make the list — because federal spending is all about Main Street, albeit Main Street in Abu Dhabi, where the national oil company does nearly $2 billion a year in business as a federal contractor.

But that is a big, hairy Gordian knot of an issue if your argument is that infrastructure spending, and other federal project outlays, are a desirable form of economic stimulus in and of themselves. If the latter is your argument, then you have to believe something far stronger than even the cartoon trickle-down version of supply-side tax cuts: You have to believe that having the federal government literally write enormous checks to gigantic international conglomerates and the rich guys who own and operate them will create prosperity by, forgive me for noticing, trickling down through the economy to the guys who spread asphalt and the guys who sell those guys work boots and burritos and bass boats. “Deep voodoo,” as Paul Krugman would put it in another context.


Trickle Down is largely a myth perpetuated by supply side opponents.  But the current idea that giving cash direct to big companies is stimulative but giving tax cuts is not is irrational.  The political benefit of direct subsidies and contracts is to be able to control the money, which broad based tax cuts would not allow.

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The Questions of 9/12


From The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens writes The Neo-Neocons:

So now liberals want the U.S. to bomb Iraq, and maybe Syria as well, to stop and defeat ISIS, the vilest terror group of all time. Where, one might ask, were these neo-neocons a couple of years ago, when stopping ISIS in its infancy might have spared us the current catastrophe?

Oh, right, they were dining at the table of establishment respectability, drinking from the fountain of opportunistic punditry, hissing at the sound of the names Wolfowitz, Cheney, Libby and Perle.

Which brings us back to the questions confronting the Bush administration on Sept. 12, 2001. Are we going to fight terrorists over there—or are we going to wait for them to come here? Do we choose to confront terrorism by means of war—or as a criminal justice issue? Can we assume the cancer in the Middle East won’t spread so we can “pivot” to Asia and do some more “nation-building at home”? Can we win with a light-footprint approach against a heavy-footprint enemy?

Say what you will about George W. Bush: He got every one of these questions right while Mr. Obama got every one of them wrong.

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A Failure to Finish

from Iraq War Regrets in The National Review, a compendium of analysis.


Those who made the case for war in Iraq — and defended the war throughout — should not feel the remorse of responsibility about recent developments. The Islamic State’s takeover, and the resulting slaughter of Christians, children, and minorities, is not the inevitable result of the 2003 invasion — but instead the unfortunate manifestation of American indifference toward Iraq since 2009.

Regardless of the merits of the 2003 invasion — which I still believe to be justified — the surge of U.S. forces in 2007 and 2008 created an environment in which a multi-ethnic, mostly moderate, and quasi-stable U.S. ally could (could!) flourish in the Middle East. If only we had shown the military and diplomatic patience to stick by them . . . imagine the value of such a state in today’s Middle East!

Instead, fulfilling campaign promises and ignoring military advice, President Obama rushed for the exits in Iraq and later shirked red-lines in Syria. As a result, Maliki marginalized political opponents in order to consolidate power and radical Islamists counterattacked to exploit resulting vacuums. The result is the disaster we see in Iraq today.

All of this was preventable, not by keeping Saddam in place in 2003, but by finishing the reinvestment America made in 2007. George W. Bush had the courage to double down in 2007 in Iraq to make it work. Obama undid his progress. And Iraq suffers today because of that latter choice.