Posted 19 days ago
Even though I know people who fight bitterly about government, employment, welfare, race, gender, etc., almost nobody I know believes the Iraq War was a good thing for anybody. It's seen almost entirely as a disgrace, from the Left as a clear indication of America's shift to outright imperialism and from the Right as a complete misuse of the military and soldiers who had to dedicate their lives to an unending and ridiculous war. No matter how different our views are, most any normal person in the United States can agree on this. As Lemann writes:
Perhaps the only thing Barack Obama and Donald Trump have in common is that public reaction against the Iraq War—of which Dick Cheney was a key architect and Liz Cheney a strong supporter—helped put both of them in the White House.
That is very well put, and is certainly indicative of the shift in views. Whereas progressives may believe reducing American imperialism will lead to a more just world and others may believe we are wasting resources and respect that could drive America to be the economic leader of the world, the result is that it doesn't really matter; nobody wants global wars anymore and nobody wants American to be meddling in the business of other countries if it doesn't directly affect our own.
This is what has led Biden, once a big believer in American foreign policy with his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to walk on eggshells when the Isreal/Gaza conflict errupted just a few weeks ago. Lemann writes that distancing himself from Isreal and Netanyahu while not intervening in the conflict, has allowed Biden to show that a "low-profile U.S. engagement can promote peace and justice." I think this is true, and what I think everybody wants to pursue going forwards (including the rest of the globe).
Those who argue that the U.S. has the responsibility to intervene, usually bring up some WWII nostalgia about fighting Nazis. Although I do actually believe this, it's beaten into the ground, and the nostalgia overlooks the past 70 years after WWII where the U.S. acted unilaterally on the world stage to promote its new form of imperialism and dominance. Ignorning Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Lybia, etc. and focusing only on WWII shows how ridiculous this form of nostalgia can be.
Lehmann ends with a very good passage:
In recent years, foreign-policy-makers in both parties have engendered public mistrust, presiding over not just endless wars but also a spectacular collapse of the global economy, a poorly handled immigration crisis, and, most recently, a pandemic that didn’t have to be as devastating as it is.
Very, very well said. I read a decent book (not great, but OK) on this topic titled The False Promise of Liberal Order.