Has Obama Drawn The Right Lessons From Iraq?

Posted August 18, 2015 at 5:10am

Noting that President Obama has compared opponents of the Iran nuclear agreement to those who supported the 2002 invasion of Iraq, Fred Hiatt looks at the lessons that should (and should not) be drawn from the latter.  

“One obvious lesson is that intelligence on nuclear capabilities is notoriously unreliable… On nuclear weapons, the intelligence community regularly has been caught by surprise, in Iran and Iraq but also in North Korea, Pakistan, India and the Soviet Union… Judging by his certitude on the United States’ ability to detect Iranian violations, it’s safe to say that’s not the Iraq war lesson Obama has taken to heart.”  

“No, the lesson Obama has in mind is that war is unpredictable and destructive and should always be a last resort. I agree with that, as, I think, would most critics of the Iran deal…  The difficulty is that it is easier in hindsight to label wars as being smart or dumb, of choice or of necessity, than when making policy decisions in the face of many unknowns. Nothing illustrates that better than Obama’s own record.”