Who Said This? (And Why You Should Care)
Before turning to some of the broader themes that Chollet and Goldgeier have set out, in this post I want to focus our readers on two quotes from one person. The authors describe how, in the days after the 1991 Gulf War, an interested party was asked about why we did not drive all the way to Baghdad and oust Saddam. (I won’t say yet if it was an Administration official, another politician, or a think tank expert.) The answer, even in 1991, was prescient:
“Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government?… Would it be fundamentalist Islamic?… I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. It makes no sense at all.”
This person added at another time:
“I think that was a quagmire we did not want to get involved in.”
Who was being interviewed and what does this have to do with the broader themes of America Between the Wars? The answer is after the jump…
I found these quotes interesting because they imply that Cheney’s thinking about what America could and should do may have changed over the course of the 1990’s (unless if he was lying through his clenched teeth in 1989, in which case his thinking stayed the same but the opinions of many other people have changed). Understanding how the years from 1989 to 2001 affected how many of us think about America’s role in the world and what constitutes the prudent use of our nation’s power is a key narrative in America Between the Wars. I’ll pick up in my next post with more about the interplay among current events, ideas/theory, and foreign policy.