By insisting that Iraq was ours to remake were it not for the Bush administration’s mismanagement, we ignore the limits on our power that the war exposes and in the process risk repeating our mistake …
The experts who say more American planning would have saved Iraq confuse the power to conquer foreign countries with the power to run them.
In attempting to build foreign nations, the United States is unable to impose a national idea, and our liberalism, thankfully, limits our willingness to run foreign states through sheer terror.
Here's an example of the limits of our willingness to run foreign states through sheer terror:
Clifton Hicks and his comrade, Steve Casey, are giving testimony about their experience in a "free-fire zone" because there were "no friendlies." According to a numbers cruncher later on, their company had killed between 700 and 800 enemy combatants, however, Hicks and Casey never saw any enemy combatants. In November of 2003, according to Hicks, an AC-130 gunship opened fire on an apartment complex. There was prior-notice given to the company, according to Hicks, by a Lieutenant Colonel about "putting on a show" for the boys. Later, the apartment was annihilated as Casey and his comrades watched and cheered from the roof of a nearby building. Casey states that he never thought about it at the time, but now the loss of so much civilian life truly bothers him.
Hicks is testifying that this building demolition was the most destructive act he's seen in his entire life, and it was not a legitimate military target. A sniper team could have neutralized the enemy sporadically firing from that location, but leadership instead chose to destroy the entire building and the civilians inside.
Abu Grahib, another example of such limits.
The final reason that American will not master counter-insurgency and state building is that we do not have to. Winning small wars has never been essential to American security. ... the attempt to establish control of hostile societies is a source of insecurity.
These ideas conflate counterterrorism with counterinsurgency. Counterterrorism is best accomplished by police intelligence operatives and special operation forces. We can hunt and capture or kill the small minority of jihadists who seek to attack Americans ... but we need not establish control over foreign states in order to do so.
Occupations convert extremists who would otherwise concern themselves with resisting their own governments into international terrorists interested in killing Americans.