A history professor at Stanford University, Hanson has impressive academic credentials. But his article is short on serious scholarship and long on supporting the agenda of Stanford's neoconservative Hoover Institute (the same outfit Thomas Sowell operates out of). In fact, Hanson's piece reads like he copied it right out of the Karl Rove playbook.
America's most contentious war [Vietnam] is being freely evoked to explain the "quagmire" we are supposedly now in. Vietnam is an obvious comparison given the frustration of asymmetrical warfare and savage enemies who escape our conventional power. But make no mistake, Iraq is not like Vietnam...
Supposed quagmire? I don't know how Hanson's Brave New World Dictionary defines "quagmire," but my old Webster's says" "a situation from which extraction is very difficult." If Iraq isn't a quagmire, little green apples are red.
And though Hoffman refuses to compare Iraq with Vietnam, he has no problem equating it to World War II:
After World War II, Germany, Italy and Japan (American troops are still posted in all three) proved to be success stories.
It doesn't take an historian to see the profound differences between present day Iraq and post-war Europe and Japan, and it would take a microscope to discover any similarities.
Hanson's Rovewellian tract goes on.
(9-11... 9-11... 9-11...)
It is hard to imagine that Syria would have withdrawn from Lebanon without American resolve in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is hard to imagine they'd have been in Lebanon to begin with if we hadn't invited them there during the Reagan administration.
Leaving Vietnam to the communists did not make anyone safer.
Except the half million American G.I.s who didn't have to go there to get killed any more. And leaving Vietnam didn't make things any more dangerous, did it?
This statement went off just above my cerebral cortex:
If we fled [Iraq] precipitously... our forward strategy of hitting terrorists hard abroad would be discredited.
Psst. Vic. It already is discredited. Our invasion and occupation of Iraq have created more terrorists and more acts of terrorism than we had before.
And this one blew my eyes out of their sockets:
Our presence in Iraq is one of the most principled efforts in a sometimes checkered history of U.S. foreign policy.
A policy formulated behind closed doors and sold to the public on false pretexts is principled?
In closing, Hanson evokes a eulogy given by Lieutenant Colonel Erik Kurilla for his fallen troops, shortly before Kurilla himself was killed in action in Iraq:
"We are fighting so that these fanatical terrorists do not enter the sacred ground of our country and we have to fight them in our own backyard."
These were appropriate words for a officer to make in respect of men who made the ultimate sacrifice under his command. But that doesn't make them true.
As the recent bombings in London illustrated, the only thing that has prevented another attack on American soil is the political acumen of bin Laden and his core leadership who know that such an action would be a profound strategic mistake.
And as for Hanson evoking the words of a soldier killed in action to shore up his political arguments, I find that about as "principled" as our presence in Iraq.