John McCain ( “get off my lawn”) and Lindsay Graham (“I’m running for re-election and nobody gets to the right of me!”) have a letter in yesterday’s New York Times, insisting that President Obama do something about ISIS. They don’t say what that something should be, but they scold the President for failing to do it.
McCain and Graham have a long history as proponents of a “muscular” (belligerent) foreign policy; in their world, war is the first, not last, resort. As I recall, both were supportive of the Bush Administration’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq and further destabilize the Middle East. Given the way that little adventure turned out, you might think they’d be a bit more reluctant to rattle their swords, but they don’t seem to have learned anything.
Martin Longman, over at Political Animal, reminisces.
It’s surprisingly easy to compose a list of the 25 stupidest things Bush administration officials said about the invasion of Iraq, and no such list can be remotely comprehensive. For example, the list I just referenced has President Bush assuring Reverend Pat Robertson that he doesn’t need to prepare the public for casualties because we won’t have any casualties, and it has Donald Rumsfeld dismissing concerns about looting because “free” people are free to do dumb things, but it makes no reference to Paul Wolfowitz saying in Congressional testimony that, “There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” It doesn’t include his testimony that “It is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army — hard to imagine.” It doesn’t include his testimony that “I can’t imagine anyone here wanting to spend another $30 billion to be there for another 12 years.”
The current Administration is trying to deal with–or as Longman puts it, triage– the disastrous consequences of massively wrongheaded policies. It’s a huge mess.
I have no idea whether Obama is doing what needs to be done, because I have no idea which measures would help and which would make things worse. I definitely have no advice to offer.
The difference between me and McCain/Graham is: I know what I don’t know.