Sunday, October 22, 2006

political jeopardy

Here’s the deal: invading Iraq was a mistake. There are few outside of the Bush administration who will publicly assert that this is not the case.

But the problem is that, back when it mattered, before the war, virtually no one in any position to do anything about it spoke out against the war. My letters (and those of many others) to Senators Clinton and Schumer in October 2002 asking them to oppose the authorization of force were ignored, as were the 500,000 people I marched with against the war in February 2003 in New York City. These were not crazy people on the fringes of society with nothing better to do. These were professionals, families, students, veterans—most of them New Yorkers who had lived through the horror of 9/11. But even if pundits or politicians thought going to war was a bad idea then, most were too frightened to say so. Or they actually believed the bullshit coming out of the White House. Any politician who had had the guts and foresight to stand up against the president then might have lost his job in 2002 or 2004. But he or she would be happy as a pig in shit right now.

Our soldiers and all Iraqis are paying now for the cowardice of our leaders in 2002-2003. But the problem our politicians are most concerned about now is not how to prevent something like this from happening again, or examining how things went so badly wrong, but how best to evade the anger of voters for leading them astray.

Mark Leibovich catalogues the myriad ways in which politicians are trying to weenie out of the consequences of their actions:

“You can all second-guess and Monday morning quarterback,” Mr. Allen said in a debate in July against his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb.

“We made decisions,” Mr. Allen added on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “You can’t say, ‘Gosh,’ five years later.”

But of course, Mr. Webb is saying a lot of “Gosh.”

“And this is what my opponent’s campaign’s about,” Mr. Allen said, “is the second-guessing.”

. . .

“Look, Chris Dodd, Joe Lieberman and I voted to go to war,” Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, told The Hartford Courant. “I consulted with a lot of people, including Bill Clinton.”

. . .

Democrats who supported the Iraq resolution in 2002 are often quick to point out that they didn’t actually vote for the war. Rather, they only voted to give the president the option to go to war, and they never expected him to rush to war as he did.

“In retrospect, it’s clear to me they had no intention of doing anything other than going to war in Iraq,” said Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, told The Manchester Union Leader.

. . .

“We know now that they had no plan for winning the peace,” said Harry Reid, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, in a news conference. “But we didn’t know it at the time.”


What are we doing in Iraq now anyway? This video (via Jesus’ General) from a reporter for the Guardian indicates that, on an operational level, Iraqi and U.S. forces are often not getting along too well.

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