Rewriting the history about the Iraq war – the pundits keep trying

The pro-war agitators other attempt at rewriting history is to say that the people who opposed the war were partisan simpletons who were against anything that Bush did, while supporting the wars that Democrats started. This is blatantly false as editorial director Justin Raimondo has repeatedly pointed out.

Raimondo delivers a blistering dissection of the phony apologias of these once cock-a-hoop warmongers, such as that they were right to support the war but that they were let down by the incompetence in executing it. They now call for more troops, firing Donald Rumsfeld, or other tactical changes, without conceding that the invasion of Iraq was a massive strategic blunder and that the current debacle followed inexorably from it.

In the veritable tsunami of recantations and recriminations pouring out of former supporters of the war, from Francis Fukuyama to various Republican members of Congress, there is one constant theme: Don’t blame us! Who knew that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction? No one could have known about the rise of the insurgency. Nobody told us!

The only proper answer to this is: Poppycock!
. . .
America’s looming defeat in Iraq was easily predictable: after all, the British, the Turks, the Ottomans, and, further back, the Romans, the Persians, the Mongols, and the Macedonians under Alexander the Great had all been driven out of Mesopotamia, some quicker than others. Why did anyone think the Americans would be the exception?
. . .
If only we knew then what we know now” – that’s the mantra we’re hearing from the excuse-makers, Democrats as well as Republicans and repentant neocons, now that the truth about this rotten war is out there in the open, plain enough for even the willfully blind to see. Well, I’m not buying it. There were plenty of indications that the “intelligence” cooked up by the neocons was faked, but nobody in Washington wanted to hear it.

Raimondo takes to task warmonger Andrew Sullivan who, like Jonah Goldberg and Francis Fukuyama, has now come to the same realization that his prior support for Iraq war was a mistake, not because it was the wrong thing to do in principle, but because he misjudged the competence of the Bush administration in implementing it.

Sullivan’s appeal to the “incompetence” angle shows that there is no shame, no real remorse, for having led us all down the garden path: according to his lights, he was right, in principle – it was only in the execution that the administration got it all wrong. Instead of regretting that we ever sent our troops into the Iraqi maelstrom, Andrew opines that we sent too few.

The fact is that many who opposed the war made a much more fundamental claim, that a “preventive war” was illegal and immoral, that Iraq had neither attacked nor threatened to attack the US, and thus there was no grounds for attacking it.

The fact also remains that many of the reasons for invading Iraq were base and shameful and the current attempts at rewriting history should be exposed. Take for example, another example from war enthusiast Jonah Goldberg. He wrote recently: “The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a side issue. The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure, but calling Saddam Hussein’s bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do.”

Really? WMDs were a side issue? Who would have guessed? Where was he during all of 2002 and 2003 when that was constantly given as the rationale for the war, in press conference after press conference, and then echoed in talk show after talk show? What about all the images of mushroom clouds billowing all over the world? And what exactly was Saddam Hussein’s ‘bluff’ that Goldberg is referring to? He doesn’t say. Does he think war is like a card game? Does he think the 600,000 Iraqi lives lost in this war are just so many poker chips?

Goldberg then goes on to further castigate the antiwar activists for their supposed naivete:

Those who say that it’s not the central front in the war on terror are in a worse state of denial than they think Bush is in. Of course it’s the central front in the war on terror. That it has become so is a valid criticism of Bush, but it’s also strong reason for seeing our Iraqi intervention through. If we pull out precipitously, jihadism will open a franchise in Iraq and gain steam around the world, and the U.S. will be weakened. (my emphasis)

His statement that “If we pull out precipitously, jihadism will open a franchise in Iraq and gain steam around the world, and the U.S. will be weakened” is another one of those sweeping generalizations which are pure fancy with no empirical basis. When the British withdrew from India, did the Indians start marauding the streets of London? When the US withdrew from Vietnam and Lebanon, did the people of those countries roam around the world, wreaking havoc? When the people of Afghanistan drove out the Soviet Union, did they follow them to Moscow? As is usually the case, when an occupying force has been driven out, the people of those countries go back about their own business.

Goldberg gives merely a casual acknowledgment to the fact that thanks to this unnecessary war, the Iraqi people are dying in their hundreds of thousands, and are now the victims of their country becoming a magnet for violent extremists and a battlefield for warring factions that he himself acknowledges was never the case before. He seems to think its quite ok for the US to have made Iraq a “central front in the war on terror.” Who cares what tragedy it has created for the Iraqi people? For these ‘hardheaded political realists’ with their grand geopolitical calculations, it does not matter if hundreds of thousands of people are killed and the remainder live in constant terror because of the violence and instability that has been unleashed by their actions.

As long as the deaths happen elsewhere to people they don’t know, they can sleep well at night, blissfully dreaming of future wars that they can advocate.


  1. Gregory Sutton says

       In at least one case, Raimondo’s criticism of one of the conservative writers is incorrect. Francis Fukuyama has explicitally stated that the criticisms leveled by opponents of the Iraq war at the start were correct; and that the Iraq war was a mistake from the outset. In his essay “After Neoconservatism”, Francis Fukuyama details where he thinks things went wrong leading to the incorrect decision to invade Iraq.
       Of note is Fukuyama’s statement: “Much of the criticism of the Iraq intervention from Europeans and others was not based on a normative case that the United States was not getting authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but rather on the belief that it had not made an adequate case for invading Iraq in the first place and didn’t know what it was doing in trying to democratize Iraq. In this, the critics were unfortunately quite prescient”.
       this is exactly the kind of statement Raimondo criticizes Fukuyama for never writing.

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