January 15, 2007
Tag Team, Back Again...
Julian's response to Megan McArdle (and, by extension, Jon Chait) is a perfectly devastating rebuttal to the hawks now averring that the doves were right for the wrong reasons, or were too right to be trusted in the future. Plus, it has some great milkshake imagery.
Meanwhile, so far as Chait's odd column decrying the pernicious opinions of everyone who got the war right goes, it's worth noting that he adds, as an afterthought, (in the way we all used to have to say "Saddam is a murderous tyrant"), that "[t]here are many lessons to be absorbed from Iraq. We'd be foolish not to absorb them; only the most dense war supporter has come away from the experience unhumbled."
Funny. Jon's column doesn't seem terribly humbled. And how did that quoted bit get shunted to the end of the article? Chait is, I'm willing to believe, a quick learner, so maybe his period of study was very quick and very quiet, and he's now learned enough that the discredited teacher-cum-student can again return to the head of the classroom. But it's sort of a remarkable trick the hawks pulled off. They got Iraq wrong, now say they've learned their lessons, and have begun replaying their tapes from 2002.
Well, at least they recycle.
January 15, 2007 | Permalink
Julian sez: Our argument was precisely that destabilizing a country riven by strong sectarian divisions will have chaotic and unpredictable results, and it's for this very reason that there should be a strong presumption against ambitious regime change projects.
My recollection, weak as it is - not being able to recall last night's food entree on occasions, was that the pro-war folks said Hussein and the Baathists (not a music group) were evil because they killed folks liberally and had WMD's that they'd next use in Kansas City.
I don't recall the pro-war folks even mentioning the millenial war between Shia and Sunni, (and Kurds) or that the the Baathists were dominated by Sunni's but were essentialy non-secular, brutally non-secular on regular occasions.
In other words, the sectarian violence possibilities inherent in Iraq's religious factions were not mentioned as a problem worth considering by the war hawks as an reason not to go to war, and the (actual) fact that the non-sectarian nature of Hussein's Baathists was a major factor in holding the country together (under a brutal dictatorship).
Now, rumblings from the far right seem to suggest that what Iraq really needs is a brutal dictatorship to suppress the sectarian civil war. Maybe even a brutal military dictatorship backed by occupying Christians. Duh!
They didn't understand then (in 2001/03) that religiouso wars are nasty and last a long time [see: The Crusades] and that Iraq existed at all only because a strong man kept the lid on and mitigated relious conflict. Removing Hussein - although a 'good thing' - yanked the scab off of the artificial state that the Brits constructed post WWI, and then de-Baathification by the US in 2003/04 tore open the wounds.
The neo-con right will never be wrong: it is in the creed. History, facts, and truth will never get in their way. Nor will they ever accept that their opponents ever could be right. Faith-based policy making, again and again and again.
Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jan 15, 2007 6:37:10 PM
Unfortunately, Jim seems to be bang on. No-one seriously expects that the war hawks will ever be replaced by dirty hippies on TV, or that they will even "mea culpa" in a meaningful way. But, it'd be really nice if they actually learned something from events. You know, like a slightly more sceptical ear for pronouncements about "war of civilisations" or even "Ira? is pursuing WMDs."
That's the worst part for me, the inability to critically assess incoming information. If you can't do that, or learn to do that after having been played for a fool by your source, then what good are you likely to do?
Posted by: Meh | Jan 15, 2007 7:11:55 PM
Julian's right, of course, that there were plenty of people who predicted the very problems we see now and opposed the invasion despite the WMD mistakes. (Megan acknowledges this.) That's one reason I'm wary of those who voted for or supported the authorization to use force and now excuse it on the basis of the WMD misinformation. That was never a proper excuse, in my view.
Posted by: Sanpete | Jan 15, 2007 7:14:08 PM
One pre-war analysis that stuck in my mind was that we would find it very difficult to control factional divisions after the war. Within a short time, the author predicted that our conduct in Iraq would be virtually indistinguishable from that of Saddam Hussein.
Posted by: FS | Jan 15, 2007 9:38:49 PM
The major dishonesty here is that this is all about what happened in the run up to the war. It's not. It's about all the foolishness and dishonesty of the supporters for the ensuing years.
The pundits/bloggers who initially supported the war still get some respect (Drum, TPM etc) if they looked at what was ACTUALLY HAPPENING in the aftermath. Those who continued to assert that "there's no insurgency", "ok there's and insurgency but we're winning", "there's no civil war" etc have demonstrated their inability to judge something which is actually occurring.
Posted by: NYT | Jan 15, 2007 9:43:14 PM
You lost me at 'megan mcardle'
Posted by: Atrios | Jan 15, 2007 10:44:24 PM
Whoomp There It Is!
Sorry, had to do it...
Posted by: RSchewe | Jan 15, 2007 11:41:52 PM
Again, I will never understand the admiration for the immensely over-rated Chait.
Posted by: sglover | Jan 16, 2007 12:25:31 AM
Damn you, Ezra! I'm normally a lurker at your site, but I had to say - you pointed me (via Julian Sanchez) to the most nauseating more-in-sorrow-than-anger oh-those-mean-uncivil-lefties and they're-happy-Iraq-is-a-complete-fiasco bullsh*t I've read in ages. Usually I can spot the complete maniacs and just ignore them, but I HAD to go and read the the whole initial post. Now it's 1:30 am and I've got to be up in four hours.
But it was so infuriating I had to respond. More than once. And no bad words, but I'm afraid I wasn't very nice - more evidence of the mean nasty lefties, dammit.
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