In 1984, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, in an effort to prevent another Vietnam from happening, laid out the criteria for engaging in war in his speech “Uses of Military Power.”
His rules for military engagement became known as the Weinberger Doctrine and were an integral part of the Reagan administration’s foreign policy vision.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called for a return to Reagan’s vision and emphasized that if it had been followed during the lead up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, that war might not have happened.
Paul summed up the Weinberger Doctrine as follows:
The United States should not commit forces to combat unless the vital national interests of the U.S. or its allies are involved and only “with the clear intention of winning.” U.S. combat troops should be committed only with “clearly defined political and military objectives” and with the capacity to accomplish those objectives and with a “reasonable assurance” of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress and only “as a last resort.”
Paul notes that these criteria were not met when first engaged in Iraq.
The intent to win was there, but the objectives were nebulous; nor could it be said that the Iraq War was undertaken as a last resort — the healthy amount of public support aside. As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to bear down on Iraq and the surrounding region, Paul argues that Weinberger’s criteria must apply to the current crisis if we are to avoid repeating past mistakes.
A significant difference between 2003 and now, however, is that a majority of Americans strongly oppose another U.S. intervention in Iraq. While public opinion isn’t necessarily the most important argument, it is key. Sen. Paul wrote:
Those who say we must re-engage in Iraq are also forgetting an important part of the Weinberger Doctrine: “U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a ‘reasonable assurance’ of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress.” To attempt to transform Iraq into something more amenable to our interests would likely require another decade of U.S. presence and perhaps another 4,000 American lives—a generational commitment that few Americans would be willing to make.
Full article: http://rare.us/story … ve-been-no-iraq-war/