- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
Optional conflicts like the Mexican War, the Philippines Insurrection, Korea and Vietnam all cost more lives than Iraq. Even our most successful wars witnessed far more lethal stupidity than anything seen in Baghdad. Thousands of American dead resulted from lapses like the Confederate surprise at Shiloh, Japanese surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, and the German surprise attacks in the Ardennes.
There have also been plenty of major policy failures in our history — a failed invasion of Canada during the War of 1812, a failed 12-year reconstruction of the south, a failed effort to help Chiang Kai-shek stop Chinese Communists under Mao, a failed effort at the Bay of Pigs to remove Fidel Castro, and a failed effort to stop communism in Southeast Asia, to name a few.
Since World War II, our intelligence agencies failed to foresee the Chinese invasion of Korea, the Yom Kippur War, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the sudden spread of Islamic fundamentalism, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Cambodian and Rwandan holocausts, and the acquisition of the bomb by Pakistan and North Korea.
Nor have past wars been any easier on other presidents than Iraq has been on President Bush. Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon left office despised. Exhausted wartime presidents Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were either assassinated or died in office. The controversial aftermath of World War I was a likely cause of Woodrow Wilson’s stroke.
The high-stakes war to stabilize the fragile democracy in Iraq is a serious, costly and controversial business. But so have been most conflicts in American history. We need a little more humility and knowledge of our past — and a lot less hysteria, name-calling and obsession with our present selves.