Learning the Right Lessons from Iraq

In the “how did I miss this?” category:

Learning the Right Lessons from Iraq,” by Benjamin H. Friedman, Harvey Sapolsky and Christopher Preble, The Cato Institute, Policy Analysis no. 610, February 13, 2008.


The near-consensus view is wrong and dangerous. What Iraq demonstrates is a need for a new national security strategy, not better tactics and tools to serve the current one. By insisting that Iraq was ours to remake were it not for the Bush administration’s mismanagement, we ignore the limits on our power that the war exposes and in the process risk repeating our mistake …

The best way to promote American security is restraint — a wise and masterly inactivity in the face of most foreign disorder. We should resurrect the notion that the best way to spread democracy is to model it. Our ideology sells itself, especially when it is not introduced at gunpoint or during a lecture to the natives instructing them on how they ought to run their country.

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