Aspen: Security: Reactions to the Four Ex-National Security Advisors Panel

Aspen—Maroon Bells

Aspen: Security: A Question I Did Not Ask Condoleeza Rice: Secretary Rice, in her opening statement, focused on historical roots of our current mishegas, and how the foreign view of the U.S. as a country that is not well-governed, that cannot handle its trade and immigration issues, has been long building.

That reminded me of something that has long puzzled me: Dual containment of Iran and Iraq—that always seemed to me like a very good idea, a very good policy, a profoundly imperfect policy, yes, but the best we could do given that we live, as Cicero said, not in the Republic of Plato but in the Sewer of Romulus.

Back in 2002 we already had a serious global terrorism network problem. "One enemy at a time" is elementary strategy. Yet in 2003 we broke dual containment by invading Iraq. We broke dual containment:

  • without a plan for getting the 300K Arabic-speaking military police optimal for stabilization,
  • without a plan for a post-invasion Iraq not theologically and ideologically in sync with Iran, and
  • without a spur to action in the form of an advanced Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Why we decided to launch such a war of choice in 2003 has always been opaque to me. Can you make your thinking less opaque to me, as to why this was thought to be a good idea? And what does this say about how good an idea disruption for disruption’s sake is in general?

Some of My Less Polite Thoughts from Aspen