Gary Dorrien teaches social ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. His latest book is Social Democracy in the Making: Political and Religious Roots of European Socialism.
Many blame Rumsfeld and the neoconservative idealogues for the disaster in Iraq. But the current foreign-policy crisis vastly exceeds their mistakes. President Bush is still talking about “winning in Iraq” and “fulfilling the mission,” and his administration is still loaded with people who want him to stake his legacy on doing so. The neoconservative ideology of his administration is merely an exaggerated version of the normal politics of American empire. Before a significant change for the better is possible, Americans must reckon with the costs of the nation's perpetual war and military empire.
In the 1950s, the CIA invented the term blowback as a marker for the ricochet effect of its covert actions. Since then the term has come to signify the backlash and other unintended consequences of intervening in foreign countries. For three years the U.S. has coped with a blowback nightmare in Iraq; now it is teetering on the edge of something even worse. Meanwhile the architects of the war still want to attack Iran and Syria, but find themselves enmeshed in the grim consequences of invading Iraq.