Letter to the Editor
In last week's issue, Russell Crandall, in making the case for "Gunboat Democracy," fails to come to grips with the fact that Latin America is not the Middle East; therefore, his analogies are weak ones. Grenada and Panama are a part of the Latino political culture in the Western Hemisphere dominated by the American "Colossus of the North," while Iraq and Afghanistan are half way around the world and part of the Islamic culture. The differences are astronomical.
It is instructive that Crandall spends more space discussing the evolution of two decidedly-less-complex small countries than he does in dealing with the enormous complexities of two much bigger countries where we have greatly over-extended armed forces on the ground. To dissect the incorrect past predictions of experts regrading the U.S. invasions of Grenada and Panama is not to breath life into the current corpses of the Bush Administration's claims and goals for success in Iraq - or even in Afghanistan. (Maybe if the latter war against al Qaeda and the Taliban had not been so severely compromised by the invasion of the former.) The real "disconnect" is between what we were told and what is actually occurring in Iraq!
Indeed, the belated U.S.-led NATO military interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo (which I favored) stopped a kind of genocide across borders. A very different combination of "motives" was involved in the invasion of a sovereign - however odious - country; only one of which was the establishment of a representative government for Iraqis. Of course, we have had to distinguish between the actual motivations and intentions of our foreign policy actions since Vietnam, especially when a unilateral, heavily militaristic "shock and awe" approach is touted as the route to success. Unlike Crandall, I would contrast and compare examples of U.S. interventions through a geopolitical prism and not the fog of Wilsonian naïveté.
What has Crandall said, in the end, when he asserts that "we must have been doing something right?" That fact alone is a facile argument for investing so much in blood and treasure in the misguided Iraqi adventure.
William E. Jackson, Jr.
William E. Jackson worked on national security matters as chief legislative assistant to the Senate Democratic Whip; and as executive director of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control under President Carter. Past think-tank posts include guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and senior fellow at the Fulbright Institute of International Relations.