Charles Krauthammer says his beautiful invasion of Iraq was ruined by . . . Iraqis. People who want to blame U.S. policymakers for the disastrous consequences of U.S. policy are just engaged in self-flattery. This is what the French call “bullshit.” Obviously, the fact that Iraq is populated by Iraqis was a fact that American policymakers and pundits should have been taking into account before invading the war, not some unknowable contingency. And, indeed, even insofar as unknowable contingencies have frustrated our efforts in Iraq, the fact that war is risky was something to take into account in advance.
Ironically, this mentality helps precisely what’s gone wrong. The neoconservative approach to Iraq has always been marked by a remarkable combination of overoptimism about social and political conditions in Iraq with a not-so-well-veiled racist contempt for Arabs. Obviously, however, one of the major elements of Iraqi society that’s made reconstructing it into a democracy under our tutelage is that Iraqis have not felt that it would be a good idea to surrender supreme power over their lives to a foreign occupying force led by people who, rather transparently, don’t give a damn about them.