Invading Iraq good, occupying Iraq disastrous. By Joshua Mitchell, professor of political theory at Georgetown University.
Many reasons were given to justify the American invasion — WMDs, democratization, peace in the broader Middle East.
I confess to have supported the war, but on different grounds: Iraq has always been, with Egypt, an anchor point of Middle Eastern civilization. Prior to the Ba’ath takeover, Iraq had a rich political culture and a generally sophisticated people, who knew well their ancient pedigree.
I report this as someone who was, so to speak, once “in the field.” During the 2008-10 academic years, I took leave from my tenured position in the government department at Georgetown, and became the acting chancellor of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. The university today is one of the few success stories that came out of the war, and currently has an enrollment of over a thousand students.
During my two-year stay, I was thanked, almost to a man, that my country had toppled Saddam Hussein. The grim stories of his reign, of the suffering he took glee in inflicting on his own people, haunt me to this day. That was the reason I supported the war effort to oust him. I knew what Iraq had been, and what it could be again.
But after the gracious “thank you,” I heard about an American military, and about the host of parasite groups who came over to “help,” that damaged or destroyed almost everything they touched. …
Elite idiots with no knowledge of real history, or of real geography outside the US, now run the show:
That is why American foreign policy is such a catastrophe, and has been for some time. Gone are the universities that once trained the area specialists who could inform the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA, that a plan it had devised was ill-advised because of the facts on the ground, which they, the area specialists, knew from a lifetime of study.
Today our universities in America teach students fear and guilt, but little else. They teach history to establish culpability, not to nourish understanding of the agonies and hopes of mankind.
What was once Area Studies has, since the end of the Cold War, become Comparative Politics; in this transformation, deep knowledge has been supplanted by social science pseudo-theories based on parochial and impoverished accounts of human action in society.
Into the moral vacuum that such social science produced has recently rushed identity politics, whose moral imperative is to establish who is owed and who owes. Hence, the fixation on diversity, equity, and inclusion — which are fancy names for retribution.
We no longer understand other nations of the world. Nor do we seem to care that we do not understand; all that matters in our universities is separating the pure from the impure, and purging the latter.
From this teaching is emerging a generation of incompetent leaders who will misjudge the world. Democratic peoples, Tocqueville wrote, will always look for a single measure, by which they can judge the whole world. Under President George W. Bush, that single measure was “freedom.” In the current regime of President Biden, that measure is “identity.” From this unsound frame of mind, we can only expect never-ending blunders.
Sigh. To judge by their indoctrination centers (aka universities), US leadership will be rubbish for at least another generation.