One of Josh Marshall’s readers notes that there was almost no press about yesterday being the 20th anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War. I don’t know exactly why, but I can speculate about reasons that the Village might not be too interested in loud commemoration of that event.
While that war was certainly anything but perfect, it had a clear, circumscribed aim. It was backed by a real coalition of willing partners, it was executed quickly and precisely with overwhelming force, and there was no nation-building involved. We got in, accomplished a limited task, and got out with a minimum expenditure of blood and treasure.
Because the Persian Gulf War made a hard thing look easy, Villagers didn’t learn the real lessons of that war. In their eyes, the Gulf War became a failure because we didn’t get Saddam, and Iraq remained a dictatorship. Even though he accomplished the fairly rare diplomatic feat of uniting a disparate coalition of countries that committed significant resources, George H.W. Bush was a wimp because the agreement that led to the coalition kept us from a glorious march to Baghdad. Despite the clear success of the Powell Doctrine, Colin Powell was too timid because he didn’t endorse an occupation of Iraq. Only Dick Cheney was wise enough to understand that the real lesson of Iraq is that we need to do it again, and that made him tough and serious.
The events of the last ten years have shown that the Village narrative of the Persian Gulf War was upside-down, and the reason we’re not having a commemoration is because it would be yet another opportunity for Village accountability. Their inability to learn the right lessons from the Persian Gulf War was the first step in the long road to their endorsement of the current folly in Iraq, and you don’t celebrate a fuckup like that.