Nothing learned, nothing forgotten
I haven’t posted on the recent terror attacks, or the various responses, because I have nothing new to say, and nothing old to repeat that hasn’t been said, or repeated, better by others. It appears that no one has learned anything in the decade or so since the Iraq war began. This 2003 post from the Onion just needs the dates changed to be applicable (or not, for those who support the side being satirised here) to the current debate.
Having said all this, have I learned anything myself? The Iraq war turned me from being a liberal interventionist (though opposed in the case of Iraq) to a strongly anti-war viewpoint.
By December 2005, I had this to say[^1]
It would be a salutory effort to look over the wars, revolutions and civil strife of the last sixty years and see how many of the participants got an outcome (taking account of war casualties and so on) better than the worst they could conceivably have obtained through negotiation and peaceful agitation. Given the massively negative-sum nature of war, I suspect the answer is “Few, if any”.
The ten years since 2005 have confirmed me in the rightness of my views[^2]. But since the same is true of nearly everyone on all sides, that’s not very helpful.
[^1]: It should go without saying, but this applies at least as much to terrorism as to political violence in general. The deliberate brutality of terrorism induces more brutality in response (as it is designed to do), and makes it even less likely that the outcome will be better than the starting point.
[^2]: I’ve wavered from time to time, but experience has proved that I was wrong to do so. The case for war, however compelling it might seem at the time, has always turned out to be untenable.