September 01, 2010

Iraq: The Morning After Commentary (Updated)

As I wrote last night, I rather liked the president's speech and thought it showed proper respect for the sacrifices made and for President Bush. Others on the internets had different things to say.

1. Andrew Bacevich says "The United States leaves Iraq having learned nothing." I disagree. I think we have learned a lot, tactically, operationally, and strategically, and I think the American people will in the future be more wary of the kind of military adventurism that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bacevich should take heart in this. But honestly, does anyone out there see a U.S. administration ever embracing the kind of neo-isolationism that Bacevich is apparently demanding? And is it just me, or is he crankier than normal lately?

2. Someone sent this post by Jennifer Rubin at Commentary to my mother, who forwarded it to me, asking, "I thought Obama did a great job in the speech last night, showing great respect for the military and the sacrifices that have been made. Am I wrong?" No, mom, you are not wrong. But Rubin is kind of like the anti-Bacevich: the president could have announced he was re-invading Iraq and marching on Tehran in the spring, and she still would have written a post denouncing him as a weak leader who coddles our enemies. (Interestingly, John Podhoretz liked the speech.)

3. Max Bergmann at the Center for American Progress takes a swipe at CNAS and writes that the president has effectively implemented a 2005 report written by scholars at the Center for American Progress. I'll let others decide which think tanks are the most influential on Iraq policy, recognizing that no one outside the 202 area code really cares. But for those of you unfamiliar with the Center for American Progress, let me just say that it is a great think tank filled with some wonderful scholars whose reports I read with interest. It has a different mission and focus than CNAS, but I have many friends there and value their opinions and analysis. I particularly liked this last report by Caroline Wadhams and Colin Cookman, the latter of whom sends out an invaluable email each morning with news articles and analysis on events in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

4. Fred Kaplan was underwhelmed by the president's speech and wonders where Iraq is headed next. One answer might be found in the rather excellent analysis provided by the man at the Pentagon with day to day responsibility for Iraq. Colin Kahl, an alumnus of the Little Think Tank That Could, is a professor on leave from the security studies department at Georgetown, and he always brings welcome scholarly rigor to his policy analysis.

UPDATE: And on a day when the pathetic Washington Post is ripping off's feed to cover the hostage crisis at the Discovery Channel HQ, Anthony Shadid redeems the MSM with one of the best newspaper articles you will ever read in the New York Times.