Since I got the shit beat out of me in comments, let me try to refine what I meant to say. (I thought I said it this way, but I guess not.) I never ever would suggest that there is no “Iraq Syndrome” in terms of PTSD, which is all too painfully real. What I meant was that, very improbably, and in part because of Obama’s handling of the withdrawal, advocates of a less imperial or less militaristic foreign policy are not getting tarred with the dismissive suggestion that they suffer from an “Iraq Syndrome” as happened after Vietnam. The idea that there was a “Vietnam Syndrome” afflicting peaceniks led to, among other things, the Second Iraq War. We appear to have dodged that bullet.
For the commenter who sensibly asked what I think the lessons of Iraq are, as I’ve been writing for years on this blog and its predecessors: Time for a less imperial and less militaristic foreign policy. Never presume that you understand a foreign culture better than the locals. Never presume you should dominate a foreign culture. Never occupy another country, particularly not a Muslim country. (There’s a difference between the occupation of Iraq and military actions in Afghanistan, which are blessed by repeated resolutions of the UN Security Council.) Build the collective-security institutions of the international community to prevent conflict before it percolates. Do not demonize the opponents of war. How’s that for starters?
Are we really going to get out of Iraq? From everything Obama has said, and indicated, about abiding by the SOFA: Yes, in every substantial way that matters. A big embassy staffed with maybe a couple hundred military and political advisers — and I’m just speculating, not reporting here — is probably appropriate given the scope of Iraq’s ongoing troubles. Is Blackwater going to stay? It’s an election year, but Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said just yesterday he wants to kick out everyone who even used to work for Blackwater. Can I see into the future? I can’t. But the evidence to date is pretty fucking positive. I would say I have some credibility here, having written a 4000-word investigative report in 2006 about base construction in Iraq; we’re leaving those bases now.
And to anyone who questions my integrity: sorry guys, I write this shit because I mean it.