America should listen to this advice but, of course, we won't. When we talk about national security, we should be talking about freedom from the anger and conflict we stir up -- and the messes we have to deal with later. We put ourselves at risk and then blame others.
The American diplomat most associated with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan says that American policy makers need to learn the lessons of the recent past as they weigh military options for the future, including for Syria and Iran:
¶ Remember the law of unintended consequences.
¶ Recognize the limits of the United States’ actual capabilities.
¶ Understand that getting out of a conflict once you are in can often be dangerous and as destructive for the country as the original conflict.
“You better do some cold calculating, you know, about how do you really think you are going to influence things for the better,” said Ryan C. Crocker, 63, the departing ambassador to Afghanistan and one of the pre-eminent American diplomats of the past 40 years. ...NYT
Here's another gift from George W. Bush that just keeps on giving.
In Iraq, the dream of a peaceful and democratic ally in the Arab world is giving way to a renewal of violence and an authoritarian government that lists toward Iran. In Afghanistan, the future is uncertain and hangs on dozens of “ifs” — if the elections are fair enough, if the Afghan security forces can fight off insurgents, if the government can become self-sufficient. ...NYT
What about Syria?
“I worry greatly that the minorities, the Alawis and the Christians, are going to be in for a very awful time,” he said, adding that he fears as well that if Muslim hard-liners take over, “the repercussions for Syria, for Lebanon and Iraq, I think, can be pretty serious.”
As for the United States’ ability to sway the situation, he was again reflective. “We’ve been writing memos to policy makers with the subject line ‘Levers on Syria’ for decades,” he said. “Well, you know, the reality was those levers didn’t exist.”
Now, he added: “I’m not sure we can do much to influence it.” ...NYT