Yet Yglesias has the stones to frame Iraq as an isolated freakout? A one-off after decades of uninterrupted, unimpeachable successes of the establishment.
As I noted last week, there is a powerful need among internationalists, whether they are realists or liberal internationalists, to treat the war in Iraq as an entirely radical departure from what the establishment was willing to do before, even though many realists and liberal internationalists (including, well, Yglesias) were perfectly willing to go along with the invasion or at least keep their reservations to themselves. This makes it easier for them to attribute their own blunders to the post-9/11 atmosphere rather than acknowledge something essentially flawed in their assumptions about U.S. interference in other states’ affairs. The “establishment” was on board with the war, or unwilling to stop it, because invading Iraq was not fundamentally different from the other wars that it had endorsed or tacitly accepted. Indeed, the formal case for the war flowed out of the bipartisan consensus in Washington about Iraq that had been established in the early ’90s and had gone largely unchallenged except from the margins of the political spectrum.
In his list, Michael forgets to include what may be the most appropriate comparison and what is also one of the most forgotten aggressive wars of the last twenty years: our
unjustified invasion of friendly disagreement with Panama in late 1989, which was carried out for the express purpose of cleaning up President Bush’s CIA legacy regime change. Toppling Hussein was ultimately just a much larger-scale version of Get Noriega, and it was so uncontroversial (in Washington) that it has all but fallen down the memory hole.