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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

 
The Mea Culpa Singers

If I might just add to Tim's great post at the road to surfdom as well as DeLong's here and Atrios's ongoing frustration with the sorry warhawks' excuses, I have to agree that this sad complaint that nobody could have known the Bushies would screw up Iraq this badly is total bullshit.

I am no psychic and I have no special insight that others don't have. Yet somehow, I was able to see that the Bush administration was very likely to screw this up badly and so were millions of other people. (For one thing, at the time we were going into Iraq the abdication of our responsibilities in Afghanistan was already well under way.)

Back in my pre-blogging days, on the night the Senate passed the Iraq resolution Atrios published this:

Digby says, in Matthew Yglesias's comments, in response to Yglesias saying "But if I don't get what I want and it does come to war, you won't see me out on the streets rallying for a Hussein victory either":

I don't think the pro-Saddam rally will be well attended.

But, there will be prayer vigils and sleepless nights on the part of those of us who hope that this incompetent administration doesn't fuck it up so much that all hell breaks loose in the region, including the real possibility of nuclear war and many american and arab casualties. And we'll be wishing fervently that terrorism on US soil doesn't become something we'll have to learn to live with because we just can't seem to kill all the people who hate our guts and multiply exponentially with every aggressive action that we take. And we'll sure hope that we can get some cooperation from the unstable regimes that finance them without having to invade and depose their leaders, too.

And, if everything works out, let's keep our fingers crossed that we can turn the mideast into a democratic paradise quickly because judging from our experience in Afghanistan, our President meant it when he said he "wasn't into nation building." We really don't need to fight this war again.

And I know that a lot of us will probably get together around the dinner table and water coolers to talk about the enormous sums of money remaking the mideast is costing and will continue to cost for years to come, while we worry about whether we'll have jobs or health care or a chance of a comfortable retirement.

So, rather than attending pro-Saddam rallies, people who are against this war being waged by someone in whom they have no faith will be instead gathering together to fervently pray that his adventure goes perfectly every step of the way.


Those prayers were far from answered. In fact, I would say that my fears were downright prescient, including the ongoing and completely unresolved threat of terrorists and Islamic states with nuclear capability.

It wasn't just me. Look at these poll results from that same week:

The public overwhelmingly wants to get the United Nations' weapons inspectors back into Iraq and allied support before taking any military action. Americans also want a congressional vote before acting - and think members of Congress should be asking more questions about the implications of war with Iraq.

Americans are concerned about the wider implications of war with Iraq. They believe such a war will result in a long and costly military involvement; they believe it will lead to a wider war in the Middle East with other Arab nations and Israel; and that it could further undermine the U.S. economy.

Americans are also cool to the doctrine of pre-emption. They believe countries should not be able to attack each other unless attacked first - and less than half of Americans think the U.S., in particular, has the right to make pre-emptive strikes against nations it thinks may attack in the future.


This was just a year after 9/11. The public was far from convinced that Bush was doing the right thing. The press and the punditocrisy, on the other hand, just kept pushing and pushing and creating this sense of inevitablility about the war --- much of it promoted by these hawks, both liberal and neocon, who insisted that we had no choice but to invade Iraq at the earliest possible time.

There really is no excuse but war fever. People chose to support that war, not because there was good evidence backing up the need for urgency. Indeed, there was plenty of evidence that we should be very cautious before we opened a front in the WOT right in the middle of the muslim holy land. But, the blood was pumping --- people wanted a fight and the media wanted a show.

It's really that simple. There was never any truly compelling reason to take on Saddam at just that moment and it didn't take a genius (I'm certainly not one) to predict that Bush would make a hash out of it. I am tired of reading these mea culpas that are filled with invective toward those of us who were correct in our assessment of the motives and the competence of the administration. We weren't a bunch of starry eyed hippies sitting around singing kumbaya --- there was ample evidence and analysis that they simply chose to ignore.

In fact, it was the the neocons and the liberal hawks who decided that democracy is a matter of faith rather than reason and believed that if they just wanted it hard enough it would magically happen. The naive kumbaya chorus wasn't on our side. It was the AEI and New Republic "Up With Democracy" singers who were the fools.





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