David Brooks couldn’t be more wrong:
We are now living in what we might as well admit is the Age of Iraq. The last four presidents have found themselves drawn into that nation because it epitomizes the core problem at the center of so many crises: the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam [bold mine-DL].
That isn’t why the last three presidents were “drawn” into Iraq, and it is at best only part of the reason why Obama is allowing himself to be dragged back in. The previous three presidents chose to use force in Iraq and impose sanctions on Iraq for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with “the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam.” Except in the delusions of pro-war propagandists, there was no “interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam” in Iraq before 2003 because the latter had little presence and no power. The invasion helped to destroy whatever semblance of secular governance there was. Indeed, it was the principal reason why that governance ceased to exist.
The war created the chaos in which jihadism began to thrive in the country. For that matter, the war was not a matter of being “drawn” into the country, but of illegally invading it on a shaky pretext. Obama entered office when secular governance in Iraq was a thing of the past, and has been drawn back in because of the clash between a sectarian government and its enemies. The U.S. has spent the last twenty-three years bombing, occupying, sanctioning, and otherwise interfering with Iraq, but virtually none of it had anything to do with countering radical Islam, and this was something that the U.S. chose to do. The U.S. wasn’t “drawn” into Iraq, but rather opted to be there in some fashion for two decades, and it was the U.S. presence itself that unleashed and drew in these forces as a result of the “aggressive, preventive action” that Brooks now thinks is so necessary.