Robert Koehler argues that developing a healthy fear of large-scale military intervention may be the only silver lining of the Iraq War in his column, “Iraq Syndrome:”
This won’t be Vietnam, exactly. No helicopter whisking the last remaining Americans off the roof of the embassy. A contingent of 16,000 State Department contract employees — more than 5,000 of them armed mercenaries — will be staying on, running what’s left of the American operation in Iraq.
But there’s little doubt we lost this war — by every rational measure. Everyone lost, except those who profited from (and continue to profit from) the trillions we bled into the invasion and occupation; and those who planned it, most of whom remain in positions to plan or at least promote the wars we’re still fighting and the wars to come.
But in a certain profound sense, the war in Iraq, as we have come to know it over the last almost nine years, is shutting down. The Obama team couldn’t get “Iraq’s inspiring but fragile democracy” (in the immortal words of Joe Lieberman, waxing absurd in a USA Today opinion piece) to approve immunity from local prosecution for American troops. Our noble cause trembled, collapsed, and for a moment we became a democracy. The will of the sick-of-war public prevailed.
I find myself reflecting on this the way I might reflect on a berserk car alarm that finally shuts off — with the ringing still in my ears, with anger and frustration still wracking my body. Something that shouldn’t be happening has finally ceased happening, or soon will, but I hardly feel like celebrating.
“If any good comes of the Iraq war,” Michael Lind wrote recently in Salon, “it will come in the form of an Iraq syndrome, like the Vietnam syndrome that made Americans wary of large-scale military intervention abroad from the fall of Saigon in 1975 until the Gulf War of 1990-91. The mantra then was ‘No more Vietnams.’ That needs to be updated: ‘No more Iraqs.'”