Excellent piece from FireDogLake on a WaPo columnist who makes several serious errors in history right off the bat. Jackson Diehl claims that the "United States faced down al-Qaeda and eventually dealt it a decisive defeat” Uh, no, it didn't Al Qaeda proper (AQ) was not al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI started as a separate organization under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who populated it with members of his old group and with jihadists who started migrating to Iraq in mid-2003 to join the fight against the American invaders of that country. Right-wingers in the US claimed that the US was following the "Flypaper" strategy, the idea of attracting jihadists from all over the Mideast and then successfully killing them in Iraq.

Problem was, most of the jihadists who went to Iraq would most likely have just remained in their home countries and most probably would not have done much of anything had the US not presented them with such an inviting target. There was simply never any evidence that anybody, neither already-active jihadists, nor members of AQ proper, were drawn into the "flypaper." Did AQ suffer any sort of defeat in Iraq? No, because AQ stayed out of Iraq. Sure, okay, AQI was defeated, but had the Iraq War never occurred, AQI would never have existed to begin with.

Diehl mentions that the Balkans under Clinton and Libya under Obama were successful interventions. True, but in both cases, there was a strong consensus as to the need for action and the US had many allies going in. Neither condition exists in Syria today, so I would be very considerably warier than Diehl is about going into Syria.

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