Codevilla approves the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a way to hold local rulers responsible for the hostile actions of their subjects [bold mine-DL], but abhors the ensuing occupation and counterinsurgency campaign, which only “hardened the divisions between this artificial country’s main religious-ethnic groups.”
As far as I can tell, the thesis of Codevilla’s book is that the country’s foreign policy elite is incompetent and incapable of conducting successful foreign wars, but based on Codevilla’s views on how the U.S. ought to have behaved over the last few decades I don’t see any reason to think that he has any answers on foreign policy. For instance, take that statement about the Iraq war. Unless the reviewer has completely misrepresented Codevilla here, the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In what sense could the invasion of Iraq be understood as “a way to hold local rulers responsible for the hostile actions of their subjects”? How far removed from reality would one have to be to think that this was the reason for the war? After all, the purpose of waging a war for regime change in Iraq wasn’t to hold Hussein responsible for things that people under his rule had done, but simply to remove him from power by force. Codevilla rails against the failures of the bipartisan foreign policy elite while endorsing the biggest foreign policy blunder of the last forty years.
Codevilla’s other preferences for what the U.S. should have done over the years read like a crazy hawk’s wish list:
But he laments the lost opportunity to punish Syria after Damascus instigated the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut; our failure to use the 150,000 American troops in Iraq in 2003 to destroy the Bashar al-Assad regime in retaliation for hosting anti-American forces; and the Bush administration’s 2006 decision to halt Israel’s attack on Hezbollah….A fortiori, Codevilla argues, America should have made war on Iran in response to the 1979 seizure of American diplomats and other acts of war.
In other words, if there is an opportunity to turn an incident or crisis into a shooting war, or to escalate and expand a war that is already going on, or to start one anew, that is usually what Codevilla thinks the U.S. should be doing. Needless to say, this has nothing to do with making or keeping the peace for America or anyone else, but would be a recipe for more unnecessary wars as well as larger, more costly, and bloodier wars than the U.S. has already been fighting.