11/14/2006 08:06 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Are You Suffering from "Iraq Syndrome"? If Not, Why Not?

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, November 14, 2006

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, raises the specter of "Iraq Syndrome" in an interview with Der Spiegel. "The danger," he says, "is that the United States now will be weary[sic] of intervening elsewhere, like the cat that once sat on a hot stove and will never sit on any stove again."

Let's stop for a moment and ask, "you mean, in a bad way?"

Why should the poor cat be disparaged for prudently avoiding stoves? Is there any reason that cats need to sit on stoves?

Why should the American people be disparaged for being wary of "intervening" in (that is, invading) other people's countries? Is there any reason that we need to go around invading and occupying other people's countries?

Wasn't then-House Majority Leader Republican Dick Armey right when he said in 2002 that it would be illegal and un-American to launch an unprovoked attack on Iraq?

As the Hoover Institution defined it in 2003, Vietnam Syndrome consists of "a belief that the United States should avoid military intervention abroad." Don't most Americans believe this, most of the time, with the exception of when they are whipped into a war frenzy by a compliant media?

In 1991, the first President Bush claimed as a result of the first Gulf War that we had "kicked the Vietnam syndrome, once and for all." How has that turned out?

I have Iraq Syndrome. I suspect that you have it too. I would like you to invite you to join my support group. Let's try to make sure that we never have to get "Iran Syndrome."