If you’re wondering why America’s political leaders seem so hesitant to devise a response to the frightening rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, let me tell you a story. It’s about the neocons and liberal hawks who cried wolf.
Once upon a time, some foreign-policy hands warned that unless the United States invaded Iraq, Islamic radicals — the kind who murdered thousands of Americans on 9/11 — would obtain weapons of mass destruction.
During the hunt for Osama bin Laden, they warned against losing sight of the danger of a possibly nuclear-armed Iraq. “[T]he larger campaign must also go after Saddam Hussein,” Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly wrote in the Weekly Standard after 9/11. “He might well be implicated in [the 9/11] attacks … or he might not. But as with bin Laden, we have long known that Saddam is our enemy, and that he would strike us as hard as he could.”
Invading Iraq would not only prevent these weapons from falling into the terrorists’ hands, the war hawks claimed. It would also result in the creation of a democracy whose people would greet us as liberators and whose government would become a reliable ally in the war on terror.