But what if these policies weren't as hare-brained as they seemed? What if they achieved exactly what they were supposed to achieve?
Robert Higgs argues that very point in his open letter response to Professor Bacevich, entitled The Real Purpose of U.S. Mid-East Policies:
As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent "failed" policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.Okay, so I guess one other successful aspect of our intervention has been, as Rush Limbaugh and other big government "conservatives" put it, to maintain "the free-flow of oil at market prices":
When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
But the U.S. military presence in the Gulf serves not to ensure that the oil keeps flowing; it merely ensures that U.S. corporations (oil and weapons companies in particular), banks, insurance companies, and so forth will be the specific parties raking in the profits from dealing in the Gulf oil. If they didn't do these jobs, the jobs would still get done, but they would get done by the efforts of other firms (European, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth), which is precisely the point: U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East serves the purposes of specific U.S. economic entities, which in turn more or less control the policies by the way they exercise their financial muscle in U.S. politics.So, maybe we shouldn't write off the Iraq war as a failure so quickly. If we follow the money, those who benefit the most from it might argue that it has been a resounding success.