The Problem of Warmaking in a Democracy

John Quiggin makes a set of mostly well-worn points at The National Interest.  Still, they aren’t being absorbed where it matters, so…

…Americans, like most citizens of prosperous and democratic countries, are generally not enthusiastic about war as a policy. The use of military force needs a strong justification to overcome this instinctive opposition, and this typically means statements of lofty goals. When it turns out that these goals are unachievable, they can’t be abandoned without an admission that the original decision to go to war was based on mistaken premises…

Even then, an explicit admission of failure is unacceptable in a democratic system. Thus did Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq have to be accompanied by praise for the “extraordinary achievement” of a venture which [cost] trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives, for what turned out to be little benefit to the United States and catastrophic for millions of Iraqis.

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