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August 23, 2007



It seems obvious to me that in our quasi-unipolar world, the US will do whatever it takes to destroy identifiable enemies but its compassion is somewhat more limited. If it tries to help with reconstruction and whatnot but gets shot at by the intended beneficiaries, it'll eventually leave them to their fate. That's the national narrative, anyway, and I think those who have assumed that they were safe from US retribution because of some prior withdrawal have failed to understand that.

Now, I don't accept this narrative as unproblematically true: sometimes the fate to which we're abandoning intended beneficiaries is an unintentional (but foreseeable) side-effect of our method of intervention. Thus the pottery-barn discussion.

When it comes to symmetric warfare, however, I think the world will continue to remember the contrast between the ease of smashing Saddam's military with the messy, unmanageable occupation that succeeded it. That is the *new* lesson, and I'm uncertain what comfort state actors would take from it. Saddam is, after all, quite dead.

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