Home/Daniel Larison/Reflecting on the Iraq War by Ignoring the Iraq War

Reflecting on the Iraq War by Ignoring the Iraq War

Jonah Goldberg grudgingly admits that the Iraq war was a political disaster for Republicans, but then follows it up by ignoring the source of the problem:

The more interesting question is: “What do you do about it?” One answer is for the GOP to do what it’s been doing. Fight, squabble, debate and, ultimately, grope its way out of the ditch. The Republican National Committee’s recent “autopsy” had many flaws, but the impulse for introspection was not one of them.

Some didn’t need a report. Whatever the merits of his positions, one has to admire the swiftness and alacrity of Sen. Rand Paul’s positioning as a different kind of Republican.

That is as close as Goldberg can bring himself to saying that Sen. Paul’s preference for a less aggressive foreign policy might be a sensible response to the Iraq debacle, except that he doesn’t make any connection between the two. Indeed, he doesn’t consider the merits of Paul’s positions, and instead just praises him for his speed in adopting them, which doesn’t make much sense. If Paul’s positions are wrong or politically radioactive in some way, it isn’t all that admirable to be quick to adopt them. If those positions are worth adopting because they are sound and/or popular, they might deserve more than a throwaway line. Sen. Paul is one of the very few elected Republicans at the national level willing to argue that foreign policy is a liability for the party now because Republicans have embraced policies abroad that are misguided, too costly, too aggressive, and not in the national interest. His “different kind of Republican” is one that understands that the Iraq war was a blunder in principle from the start and not just something that was flawed in its execution. That’s the one thing that most Republican pundits and politicians want to avoid discussing or debating, unless it is to praise Bush for the genius of the “surge” or congratulate themselves for their steadfastness in supporting an unnecessary war.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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