The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has prompted much handwringing over the problems with prewar intelligence. Too little attention has been paid, however, to the flip slide of the picture: that the much-maligned UN-enforced sanctions regime actually worked. Contrary to what critics have said, we now know that containment helped destroy Saddam Hussein's war machine and his capacity to produce weapons.
Andrew Krepinevich ("How to Win in Iraq," September/October 2005) proposes Baghdad and Mosul as the two primary targets for "oil-spot offensives." He asserts that the focus should be on "protecting the population, not pursuing insurgent forces." This proposal ignores two basic realities. first, Baghdad and Mosul are sprawling cities. Their populations would be very difficult to protect without pulling troops, American or Iraqi, from more contentious parts of Iraq.
In "The Iraq Syndrome" (November/December 2005), John Mueller argues that public support for the American wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq can be explained with "a simple association: as casualties mount, support decreases." He goes on to say that support for the Iraq war has dropped so fast that it makes sense to talk about an "Iraq syndrome," a casualty-induced aversion to the future use of force by the United States.