September 13, 2016

THINK OF THEM AS DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES AND YOU WON’T GO FAR WRONG: Our Press Falls Down on the Job Again.

Libya is no closer to stability or peace than it has been since the invasion. Western plans to bring order to the country are failing yet again. . . .

We must all be grateful that we don’t have a Republican President or it would be Libya, Libya, Libya all the time, a deafening chorus of shrieks and imprecations. “How could the White House be so stupid as not to learn the lessons of Iraq?” “Who knew what, and when?” We would also be hearing much more about the consequences of our failures: the continuing flows of arms, funds, and jihadis to various groups in Africa and beyond, not to mention the damage to U.S. prestige. The responsible officials would be hounded by an enraged press corps and an aroused public. Hillary Clinton has actually been quite lucky that the GOP attack focused almost solely on Benghazi, when that tragic incident was only the tiniest piece of a major policy disaster.

Not that a return to Bush-era press inquisitions would be a good thing. There really ought to be some kind of happy medium between the no-holds-barred relentless attacks on GOP foreign policy failures and the whistle-past-the-graveyard treatment of Democratic ones. And many of America’s biggest recent foreign policy failures had strong bipartisan support at the time. A lot of Democrats backed the Iraq invasion, and a lot of Republicans backed Libya.

Nobody is ever going to get everything right in foreign policy—that’s not the way history works. But these days in the U.S., in large part thanks to the way much of the press (with some honorable exceptions) goes about its business, we have got a system that makes it hard for us to learn from our mistakes—to have the serious conversation about foreign policy and global strategy that the country badly needs.

We have the worst political class in history.