Told You So
one could have anticipated the Iraq disaster, except the 40%
bodies popping up in Iraq like morbidly obese people
at a Krispy Kreme grand opening, public opinion on the war
is finally approaching reality—everywhere but in the White
House. The papers are hesitating to call the escalating violence
between Shiite and Sunni Arabs civil war (the euphemism in
both the LA Times and New York Times today is “strife”), but
it’s pretty clear that the situation is well out of hand.
Still, the badly weakened White House is in full denial mode,
planning yet another “series of important speeches.” The message
is the same as it has been for the last couple of years—forget
all that WMD stuff; we went to Iraq to spread freedom and
in the Middle East, even forcibly implemented, Bush says,
will “bring hope to a troubled region, and this will make
America more secure in the long term.” But this is as much
of a lie as the whole “500 tons of sarin” thing. The most
recent democratic elections in the Middle East have brought
to power Hamas in Palestine and a holocaust-denying fundamentalist
madman in Iran. All democracy means, really, is majority rule.
This can be a drawback if the majority is insane.
I don’t really have to argue about that anymore. It seems
that the country has finally caught up to the farcical stupidity
of this war. It’s like everybody’s waking up from a hypnotic
trance under which they were homicidal zombies, rubbing their
eyes and saying, “where am I?” And when told, they can’t believe
it. “Me? I would never do a thing like that.”
say that, after Watergate, you couldn’t find anyone who would
admit they had voted for Nixon. I suspect we’re going to see
a similar phenomenon with Iraq. How many people want to admit
they supported the dumbest war in modern American history?
At least, when we got to Vietnam, there were really communists
there. We weren’t running around desperate to find anybody
with a copy of The Marx-Engels Reader so we could announce
it on TV.
some of the majority who did at least temporarily support
the war don’t enjoy the luxury of plausible deniability—namely,
the opinion-makers who convinced so many that Saddam would
be crawling out of their toilets with a vial of anthrax clenched
in his teeth any second. All you have to do if you want to
see just how wrong right-wingers were is read some columns
from the run-up to the war. It’s amazing these people are
still able to show their faces in public without being repeatedly
read some of those opinion columns again. It’s really something.
It’s hard to distinguish the liars from the fools, but the
inescapable fact is that they were all wrong. America’s history
of war is teeming with liars and fools, and this one is no
exception. Let’s look at a few examples:
sound pretty stupid now, don’t they? This list goes on and
on, but you get the idea. It’s painful but important to remember
these words, especially if you believed them. It’s important
to look back, to feel the embarrassment, to remember just
how wrong they were.
that’s exactly what they were, all these people who smugly
dismissed the notion that invading Iraq was illegal, immoral,
and pointlessly stupid—they were wrong. This is no longer
a matter of “he said, she said.” The issue is past debating.
These people were wrong. And not only were they wrong, but
they spent a lot of time accusing their opposition—liberals
who turned out to be right—of hiding their heads in the sand,
of lacking courage, even of treason. And it worked, at least
on the ones who did lack courage. It got us there.
now that nearly everyone has figured out that this was an
incredible, criminal mistake, some of them have changed their
minds. Conservative luminaries like William F. Buckley, George
Will, Francis Fukuyama, and Andrew Sullivan have all admitted
that the war was a mistake, or at least handled incredibly
badly. But none of them have gone the extra mile. It’s one
thing to admit you were wrong—something a lot of conservatives
seem genetically incapable of, so they’re ahead of the pack
there. But it is quite another to admit someone else was right.
And that’s something none of these guys are about to do.
it hardly matters. The fact is they were wrong. They
were wrong, and the wussy, unpatriotic, “pre-9/11 mentality”
liberals were right.
not talking about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, so don’t
even go there. I’m talking about liberals, the ones who are
practically unmentionable these days—Noam Chomsky, Howard
Zinn, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich—even Michael Moore. The
truth of this would be enough to give a guy like Chris Hitchens
an aneurysm, if he could only admit it to himself. But it
is true, undeniably. Anyone who thinks the situation
in Iraq is improving, or will improve, just isn’t paying attention.
were wrong. There were no nuclear weapons, no 500 tons
of sarin gas. Saddam was not connected to al Qaeda.
We were not greeted with flowers. The war was not
a piece of cake. The mission was not accomplished.
It does require a lot more troops to occupy a nation
than to invade it. The world is not a safer place.
They were just wrong.
who opposed the war, who wrote and spoke and demonstrated
against it, we were right. Iraq is an intractable quagmire,
an endless disaster with no solution. America’s actions have
resulted in civil war there. The war has become al
Qaeda’s best recruiting tool and made the threat of Islamic
terrorism much worse. Our international image is indelibly
tarnished. We were 100%, unequivocally right.
is no joy, no satisfaction in writing this. I sincerely wish
the Neocons were right, that freedom and Western values would
have magically flourished in Iraq, spilling out from Saddam’s
broken pedestal and flowing across Iraq’s borders into Iran,
Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.
But the whole idea sure seemed stupid to us whacky
leftists at the time.
you know what? We were right. So maybe next time, you shouldn’t
just dismiss us as terrorist sympathizers or white-livered
elites. Maybe next time you should listen to us, and forget
the idiots who’ve been lying to you the whole damn time, sweet-talking
you into giving up hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands
of gallons of blood just to make total asses of ourselves
in front of the whole damn world. And maybe you won’t be so
quick to trust the same people again.
probably you will. Because the only thing harder than admitting
you were wrong is admitting that the other guy was right.
But you should; you really should, because that’s how people
learn. Just admit it. You were wrong. We were right. I’ll
try not to bring it up again.