Posted by Curt on 21 March, 2015 at 6:47 am. 2 comments already!


Andrew C. McCarthy:

What ever happened to the “box”?

Remember what the Democrats said about Saddam Hussein? Wait . . . that’s a confusing question. One must clarify whether we’re talking about when a Democratic administration was bombing a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan because it was really a joint chemical-weapons venture between Iraq and al-Qaeda; or when that Democratic administration joined Congress in making regime change in Baghdad the national policy of the United States; or when congressional Democrats insisted on voting to show their support for the war to remove Saddam Hussein from power; or when Democrats decided Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaeda after all; or, finally, when Democrats turned with a vengeance against the Iraq war they had enthusiastically supported.

I’m talking about that phase at the end.

​In obeisance to the hard-left, anti-war faction (now known as Obama’s base) that had come to dominate their party, leading Democrats scalded President Bush for his purportedly heedless rush to an unnecessary and ultimately disastrous war. In the new telling — the one that elides mention of the war drums beaten by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, et al. — there was no need to invade Iraq because President Bill Clinton, as he himself recalls it, had brilliantly maneuvered Saddam Hussein into a “box.”

President Clinton, we’re to understand, had methodically isolated Saddam, arranging American policy with an eye toward steadily strangling the regime through a mix of punishing economic sanctions, a no-fly zone, the threat of fierce military retaliation in the event of Iraqi aggression, and pressure on other countries to treat Saddam as a pariah. Sure, the Iraqi government was still a menace. Not only was Saddam concealing his weapons programs and stocks, and oppressing his own people; there remained the concern that he would provide safe haven for al-Qaeda if Afghanistan became too hot for the terror network — that Osama bin Laden would “boogie to Baghdad,” as Clinton counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke had memorably put it. Still, we are now assured, Clinton had Saddam contained: He was no longer an imminent threat to American interests, yet still a barrier to Iran’s regional ambitions.

There was no need to go to war, this revisionist history teaches. The regime in Baghdad was in a box, unable to ratchet up its weapons development and beset by internal strife that would eventually be its undoing.

Now, there are many problems with this history as history. The point here, though, is not to argue over whether this is a faithful rendition of events. It is to highlight the Democrats’ policy prescription. History, after all, gets revised so that those who write it can appear to have been on the right side of it.

In the case of Iraq, Democrats settled on what they argued was the most effective formula for handling a rogue regime with nuclear ambitions. Only then did they selectively mine the record to suggest that this formula had been their policy all along. For present purposes, the mining is irrelevant. As we turn our attention to Iran, what matters is the formula — the “box.”

Why can’t President Obama put Iran in a box?

Obama is the leading voice of the “Iraq was a huge mistake” crowd. Nearly as notorious are his admonitions against “false choices” that suggest having A (e.g., security) necessitates forfeiting B (e.g., due process). Yet, what is the president’s rationale for appeasing Iran with a disastrous deal that will enable it to become a nuclear-weapons power? It is that the only alternative to his bad deal is war.

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