V.D. Hanson proves himself wrong
I don't actually disagree with the premise of Hanson's article, but it's important to note that he serves as his own best counterargument, as he has been embarrassingly wrong about the Iraq War since well before it began. In other words, I think studying military history is a good thing, but it doesn't help you if, like Hanson, you're a blind, foolish partisan infected by cognitive dissonance.
January 17, 2003:
For better or worse, we have now crossed the Rubicon with Iraq, thereby assuring oppressed peoples that help is on the way, and warning terrorist enemies and duplicitous friends that the Middle East is soon to be altered in ways they should fear.Does Hanson believe that terrorists and "duplicitous friends" are fearful about the power our misadventure in Iraq has handed to Iran?
February 7, 2003:
In sum, in a strict military sense, if the Iraqi army — there is no real navy or air force — fights, it will do so as poorly as it has in the past against any good force that it cannot surprise.This statement wasn't so much wrong as it is funny in the light of Hanson's statement four month later, complaining that
domestic critics of our military who had forecast "millions of refugees" and "thousands of casualties" — and in week one of the war during a sandstorm had continued on with a chorus of "Stalemate," "Quagmire," and "Vietnam" — now post facto paradoxically reversed course. They suddenly played down our own soldiers' competency by concluding (in their infinite wisdom from the rear) that the Iraqi army was a paper tiger — hardly capable of waging modern war after all! In a blink of an eye their horrific quagmire became a bullying cakewalk.March 18, 2003:
The fact is that U.S. Marines will find more deadly weapons in the first hours of war than the U.N. did in three months. And by day two the world will have forgotten Dominique de Villepin and be listening instead to Tommy Franks, who will practice a different sort of diplomacy…Has his study of history taught him nothing about taking the claims of hawks at face value?
There are many, many more instances of Vic's general wrongness about the War in Iraq, but no statement is probably more egregious than this:
I think Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, when this is all over, will have done a great favor to millions of Iraqis and provided Americans increased security, but I don’t expect that they will win any popularity contests for all their efforts. Don’t expect that Walter Cronkite, Arthur Schlesinger, David Halberstam, Susan Sontag, and a host of others who predicted a nightmarish “hornet’s nest” and American diplomatic catastrophe in Iraq to admit their error. More likely, such critics will commit a trifecta of hubris and misjudgment by predicting further endless terror to complement their past gloomy prognostications about the Taliban and Saddamites.Iraqis don't seem to think we've done them such a "great favor" and American intelligence agencies have found that the war in Iraq has led to an increased radicalization of young Muslims, therefore decreasing overall American security.
Maybe one day Hanson will come around to admitting his own errors and the Bush administration's "hubris and misjudgment," but don't expect that day to come until our public discourse evolves to the point that self-refuting idiots like him are no longer taken seriously enough to publish.
Note: Edited mistype (see comments).