Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama's Pro-War advisors

John Mearsheimer--guest posting for Stephen Walt--makes an interesting point: none of President Obama's senior foreign policy advisors publicly opposed the Iraq War at the time.
The Bush administration is principally responsible for these twin disasters, but the fact is that most of the Democratic Party's foreign policy experts -- certainly the more senior ones -- supported President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and to do massive social engineering across the Middle East. Consider, for example, Hillary Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, and Dennis Ross -- three key players on the Obama team. They were all strong supporters of the Iraq war, and they had little inkling that we would end up getting bogged down in Iraq or that we would squander our initial success in Afghanistan. In fact, not one of Obama's principal foreign policy advisors opposed the Iraq war, although the president did. It seems that almost all of the senior foreign policy experts in the Democratic Party have been "marinated in the [same] inside culture" as their Republican Party counterparts. What this effectively means is that Obama and the country will have to depend on a group of individuals who helped create the Afghanistan and Iraq disasters -- albeit in a small way -- to get us out of them. That is not a reassuring thought.
Ah yes, the one dissenter, the President himself. I certainly applaud him for his opposition to the Iraq War, and think it may have been the biggest factor in helping him win the Democratic primary, I wonder why Obama hasn't been able to surround himself with more people who shared his foresight/concerns about the war. The President has so far largely left foreign policy to his admittedly capable senior advisors while he attempts to deal with the global financial crisis, but the fact that alternative voices have not been included on a senior level (see the Chas Freeman affair) is somewhat disturbing.
One reason I became interested in national security during my undergraduate days is that during the discussion prior to the Iraq War most Democrats either rolled over and agreed with the Republicans, or disagreed simply based on party without offering alternative policies or explanations. I'm proud to be a part of the growing group of younger progressive national security experts.

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