Where Is the 'Iraq Syndrome' When We Need It?
No core assumptions have been seriously reexamined, and contrary to the mythology that hardliners like to promote there has been no meaningful retrenchment by the U.S.
Janan Ganesh doesn’t think the Iraq war had much of a lasting effect on the U.S. and the other countries that joined in the invasion:
Did the war at least bring a lasting change in foreign policy, if not to personnel? It is hard to identify one. There has been no Iraq version of Vietnam syndrome: no reluctance to use or threaten hard power. By 2011, the west was engaged in Libya. France spent nine years in the Sahel. Vast troop deployments are harder to imagine, true. But the idea isn’t unspeakable in the public square. Joe Biden suggests, again and again, that America would defend Taiwan, which it doesn’t recognise as a state and isn’t formally obliged to protect.
Another way to put this is to say that there has been almost no learning taking place in Western foreign policy circles over the last twenty years. No core assumptions have been seriously reexamined, and contrary to the mythology that hardliners like to promote there has been no meaningful retrenchment by the U.S. Far from retrenching, the U.S. has been steadily expanding its commitments over the last twenty years, and if hardliners get their way those commitments will only keep growing. The military budget has steadily expanded as well, and it seems certain to keep getting bigger every year. Not only is there no reluctance to “use or threaten hard power,” but U.S. foreign policy is so heavily militarized that almost all of its other policy tools have been left rusting from lack of use.