There is no comparison between the war in Iraq and support for Ukraine

On Ukraine, right-wing neo-isolationists are waging the last war.

They warn of a return to the belligerent mood that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 – never mind that they are warning the wrong country.

If the United States launched a large-scale military intervention 20 years ago without properly calculating the risks or understanding the political and cultural contours of the country it would occupy, it was the Russians, not the Ukrainians, Europeans or we, who today are reproducing this error.

Giving the Ukrainians Javelin missiles to fire at armored columns encircling their cities is a far cry from taking over a major Middle Eastern country without a clear exit plan.

The idea that the national mood looks suspiciously like that of 2003 leaves out something extremely important: 9/11.

We would not have invaded Afghanistan or Iraq had it not been for the shock of one of the most brazen and destructive homeland attacks in American history. There is no way an overseas event playing out on our television screens can match the brutality and emotional power of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Yet the neo-isolationists, who call themselves realists or moderators, want to believe that we are on the verge of a dangerous escalation in Ukraine. While there have been prominent voices calling for a no-fly zone that would be such an escalation, President Joe Biden has staunchly opposed it and the balance of opinion left and right is against it. also opposes. In the absence of a truly revolutionary event on the ground in Ukraine, this is simply not a viable option.

What we are talking about, realistically, is increasing material support for the Ukrainians and new sanctions against the Russians. Both should be undertaken with care, but neither is tantamount to starting World War III.

A U.S. Army soldier patrols next to a highway culvert where a Humvee vehicle was destroyed in an attack in Iraq's capital Baghdad, July 16, 2003.
The US invasion of Iraq took place under very different circumstances than former President George W. Bush’s War on Terror.
REUTERS/Chris Helgren

As Jacob Heilbrunn noted in a dispatch for Politico from an “emergency” conference held by restrains in Washington, D.C., their preferred political approach is essentially to allow the Ukrainians to be conquered by the Russians as soon as possible. for their own good – that way the Russians will stop reducing their cities to rubble.

The citizens of Bucha might find this a very strange form of solicitude. One can only imagine what the councils of restraint would have been to the Greek city-states resisting the advances of the Persian Empire in the 5th century BC, to the Carthaginians during the Punic Wars or to the Russians during Napoleon’s invasion.

Submit to your foreign overlords, who seek to occupy or dismember your country and destroy your democratically elected government is not advice that many nations are always eager to follow.

Indeed, for writers and analysts who present themselves as realists, moderators display a profound lack of awareness of people’s motivation, even when poorly armed, to defend their culture and homeland when an invader comes seeking to impose foreign domination.

A US soldier watches a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fall in central Baghdad on April 9, 2003.
A US soldier watches the famous fall of the statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad on April 9, 2003.
REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

It is certainly true that the Bush administration’s foreign policy has become far too idealistic, borderline otherworldly, over time. This does not mean that, in response, we should abandon all moral discernment in matters of foreign affairs. Yes, Ukraine is a corrupt and crumbling democracy, but there is no doubt about its superiority over the venal dictatorship of Vladimir Putin, nor about Russia’s culpability for launching a hideous war of aggression.

To say otherwise is to ignore all the relevant distinctions in this conflict – between who is the aggressor and who is the defender, who hates the West and who wants to join it, who gave up their nuclear weapons decades ago decades and who makes nuclear threats, and by the way, who has won against all odds and whose vaunted military machine has been repeatedly embarrassed.

In seeking to avoid the mistake of 2003, the restrains are making their own mistake of 2022.

Twitter: @RichLowry

New York Post

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