Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Iraq War--A Rueful 2002 Perspective

Every reasonable observer must now conclude that the Iraq War is a catastrophe. Polls show that 90% of Iraqis consider the US occupiers. Had we known in 2002 and the early months of 2003 what we know now, very few of us--zealots apart--would have supported this war. It is thus surprising that some intelligent people that I respect still seem to think that going to war in Iraq was a good idea. Things we know now, but did not know then: there was no stock of ready to hand WMD; Saddam Hussein was not about to attack us or his neighbors; Saddam Hussein had no significant links to Al Qaeda; the Iraqis do not wish to be governed by the USA or its puppets; and--hardest of all to fathom--the US Defense Department (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith et al) had no plausible plan for governing post-war Iraq. Taken together, these things now make the decision to invade Iraq an act of reckless folly. The 2002 pro-war camp--of which I unfortunately was a member--can at least console itself that these were things that could not then have been known. Knowledgeable experts had assured us that the possession of WMDs was a slam-dunk case. The 2002ers must still, however, answer for neglecting facts that were already known in 2002: the incompetence, arrogance, and venality of the Bush war-camp; the failures in Afghanistan; the lack of either UN or NATO support; the refusal of the Bush administration to discuss in any detail the post war plans for Iraq; the fractious nature of domestic groups in Iraq; the desire of the Kurds for self-government; Rumsfeld's "war-lite" plans; and the Bush administration's craven deference to Prime Minister Sharon. Given these facts, we 2002ers have every reason to feel foolish. The 2002 anti-war camp has every reason to gloat. We 2002ers ought to join with the anti-war camp in ridding ourselves of the political leaders who got us into this fucking mess. The difficulty here for us 2002ers is that the Democratic candidate is one of our own. Like all of us, Kerry ought to come clean and identify where exactly--and why--he got it so disastrously wrong.

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