The Prescience Of Mearsheimer

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 11 2011 @ 9:06pm

Take a moment to read the op-ed here, written in November 2001, about why we should not invade Afghanistan because it was a trap:

The principal target is Al Qaeda, and the United States should not rest until it has destroyed that terrorist organization. Removing the Taliban from power, and discouraging states like Somalia and Sudan from taking in Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists, are major steps in that direction. But probably the most important ingredient in the war against Al Qaeda is good intelligence, which will allow the United States to locate the terrorists and strike at them with deadly force when the time is right — and to locate, protect and reward those who come to the American side. The Bush administration should devote abundant resources to improving America's intelligence capabilities and to buying information on the terrorists from other governments.

Americans must face a hard reality: massive military force is not a winning weapon against these enemies. It makes the problem worse. In contrast, a strategy that emphasizes clever diplomacy, intelligence-gathering, and carefully selected military strikes might produce success eventually if we pursue it with patience and tenacity.

This is not terribly heartening. But it is the least bad alternative at the moment, and international politics is often about choosing among lousy alternatives.

It took Obama to get this right, after I and so many got it so terribly wrong. And this is another reminder of the strategic brilliance of Mearsheimer, a man subjected to a vicious smear campaign because of his resistance to the Greater Israel Lobby.