I’m not trying to call anyone a hypocrite here, because they both more than owned up to it, but in the space of a few hours I came across a book review of Michael Lewis’s new book that mentions Lewis’s full-throated defense of derivatives in 2007 and a post by Jonathan Chait making note of some hard-core war blogging Matt Yglesias did in 2002.
There’s a tendency to want to see people that we like and agree with (Michael Lewis is probably my favorite non-fiction writer and Yglesias is certainly a top ten liberal blogger for me) as usually being correct about things, but the truth is being correct is really difficult.
It’s also a little depressing to think of how many prominent liberal voices of today were big Iraq war supporters.
What is so fucking hard about realizing that you don’t invade countries that haven’t done anything to you?
You might say that John Cole’s readers have a special awareness when it comes to this.
Glad to say Barack Obama wasn’t one of them.
Would you rather that we remained big Iraq war supporters? While I was certainly a supporter initially, I have no illusions that I had the prominence of voice to convince anyone who wasn’t already a supporter. I was just as wrong as everyone else, of course. But I’ve taken a little comfort in the fact that I am not a prominent journalist / blogger / newscaster and didn’t have the bully pulpit to turn people on to the war.
My own mistakes aside, I find it heartening that so many people who supported the Iraq war turned against it.
I am not prominent but I do have a voice, a liberal one. My drinking buddies, my wife and my then eight-year-old daughter got it: Don’t fuckin’ kill people who didn’t do no shit to you. Hell, even avoid killing the ones who do. But, then again, I’m an extra dirty fuckin’ hippie.
not at all. I’m right all the time.
I knew derivatives were shit because they bankrupted orange county in the early 90s. when you play with leverage, you play with fire. see, Long-Term Capital Management.
invading iraq had vietnam and the bay of pigs written all over it (no exit plan, no overwhelming force, no clear mission). just watch the prescient 1999 film “Three Kings”.
I supported Obama from the start, unlike the screaming populists who all told me I wasn’t a real liberal for not supporting pig fucker, john edwards. Heh!
Hopefully, for the sake of all humanity, John Cole V will post something like the following: “How could liberals at the beginning of the 21st century not see the moreal imperative of affirmatively ending human suffering around the world? Instead, mainstream liberals then saw it as a “nice” thing to do, but never at the expense of America’s own internal needs, despite the fact that the suffering among the world’s poor was far worse than suffered by any American, legal or illegal.”
My point is that meta-observations are not so easy and it is one of the reasons I despise people talking about what they would have done had they lived in a particular epoch. (See also Generation, Greatest.)
We “know” the war cheerleaders were wrong, but what matters most now is that those same people learn from their errors and, more importantly, that none of us act with smug assurances that our moral decisions are above reproach.
ETA: To clarify my Greatest Generation point: I hate those bastards because they applaud themselves for fighting the Nazis AFTER the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and AFTER they turned away fleeing European Jews. And generally, speaking, all the while maintaining the sexist and racist attitudes of their parents. They selective choose what purportedly makes them morally great and ignore sins, that if we did today would make us David Duke or Rand Paul.
I think about the enthusiastic crowds that collected in both Paris and Berlin, in August 1914. They ALL thought that it was going to be a short, glorious war; something to break the monotony of bourgeois life in the new 20th Century. We now know how THAT worked out !
@Three-nineteen: I think the point is that the people who were right about these things have a hard time dealing with the fact that not only were they right but that they were right and still didn’t get their way. Frustration. Frustration has a tendency to set in. As does anger, resentment, disillusionment, weariness….
Although I could be wrong.
On second thought, I’m probably wrong. DougJ is right. Being right is hard.
Yglesias is a still a twit today though.
What interests me most of all is why those “prominent liberal voices of today” who were big Iraq war supporters ignored the results of the UN WMD inspection team that was in Iraq prior to the war.
Because as far as I can tell, the failure to find WMD is the only “fact on the ground” that contradicts the Bush case for war. The others, that Saddam was a bad dude, that Iraq was a menace to neighboring countries, and that Iraq had oil to exploit, remain true to this day.
So it would appear that the only reason that the prominent liberals changed their view is because they were surprised at the failure to find WMD. Which makes you wonder how they process empirical data, like that which the UN WMD inspection team was producing.
@Three-nineteen: You should watch intervention. Addiction is a hard thing to get over.
What was so discouraging about the Iraq war is you think you live in a civilized country, and that there at least a few basic principles we don’t need to debate, that we can all agree on. Enslaving people is bad. All adults should have the vote. You don’t torture your prisoners. And you don’t start a war if you can possibly help it; the only justification for war is to respond to an attack, to respond to an imminent attack, or to prevent an atrocity that no lesser measure can address. It makes me despair for humanity that we can’t even learn such a simple lesson.
Well, what do you expect, Doug? Remember, supporting the war meant you were a ‘Very Serious Person’ unlike those dirty hippies, which gave you the street cred to actually say crazy liberal things and actually be taken seriously (but not as much as if you were asking to Bomb Iran in response to the threat of North Korea).
That’s probably a big reason why the prominent liberal voices of today are credible enough to BE the prominent liberal voices of today.
I was never an Iraq War supporter. Never ever. Not even a little bit. It seemed like a disaster in the making. I had less access to information than so-called “informed people” and spent less time reading the information did have access to than the big name liberal bloggers.
Why was it obvious to a lay person like me that it was going to be a mess and there wasn’t justification for it? Were the big name bloggers and various other media types just not paying attention?
Yglesias wrote some really disgusting shit at the time, it wasn’t just Iraq. He was part of some nasty clique at Harvard calling themselves “anti-jihadists” and their big issue was running a Muslim off the stage at commencement. He was young, and you can see his thought process sort of coming together and realizing what a bunch of horrible shit he had gotten involved with. A lot of people lost their minds for awhile after 9/11.
No, it’s incredibly depressing. Even now, if a person was proved fucking right (unlike, say, Judith Miller) about Iraq from the git go, they are not considered a Very Serious Person ready for Sunday Morning Seriousness. Iraq War Supporters are still considered to be experts on Foreign Policy, war, torture, and other Very Serious Matters. Fuck Tom Friedman.
do you believe there were solid Iraq/al-Q links ?
against Iraq? dilettantes!
i was against the Afghanistan war because i didn’t think we’d leave the place any better than we found it, which would just make al-Q’s anti-American message more appealing.
going into Iraq seemed mind-bogglingly stupid, after watching what Bush did to Afghanistan .
but nobody listened to me, either.
I was fence-sitting on the Afghan War and totally opposed to Iraq War.
I could do basic math and was told many times “you just don’t understand finance!” when I said the housing bubble was going to explode.
OTOH, I really liked Kucinich and never thought the guy with the funny name could appeal to more than naive college kids who thought they were voting for the Fresh Prince of Chicago. Mea Culpa.
What is really depressing to me is how easy it was to know that Boy George was rushing to an unnecessary war. There is this thing called the Internet & though it it was possible to read news stories from European media & even check on them if you wanted to using other public sources.
Had they done that they would have known:
The Aluminum tubes were not capable of use for uranium enrichment according to both the UNs atomic energy commission and the US dept of Energy.
The yellow cake story was a lie.
Those mobile chemical warfare truck shown by Powell were helium trucks used to fuel weather balloons.
Previous and current UN weapons inspectors agreed that there was no WMD program of any value left.
Rumsfeild & Cheney both claimed to know where the WMDs were but all leads supplied by the US turned up nothing when checked – and W ordered the inspectors out so he could start bombing
If you thought we had a case to invade Iraq you either were totally steeped in US media BS or you wanted to believe. I am afraid in many of the liberal hawks cases they WANTED to believe because it would cement their position as “very serious” people, not like those DFH.
Having said that, and having been right on Iraq from the start, I will admit to being wrong on a semi-regular basis. One of my few charms is that I always hold the opinion “what if I am wrong?” a curse far too few politicians and no blovators ever seem to suffer from.
I remember thinking prior to the beginning of the war (the talking phase) that our leaders weren’t placing enough emphasis on the culture of the area. Forget the fact that the Russians couldn’t make it work in Afghanistan, I’m going all the way back to the Romans. The people in this area don’t take kindly to invasions and haven’t for thousands of years. No one seemed to bring that point up, probably because they either didn’t put much value in it, because we would be welcomed as liberators ya know, or there isn’t a way of framing that argument without sounding as simplistic as the “we’ll just be in and out before you know it, folks” crowd.
No, and there weren’t any. But the “threat” Bush talked about was contingent on WMD, which he claimed could be passed to al-Qaeda. Other countries that were the source of al-Qaeda members, basing, or its funding (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan) weren’t considered worth invading. It’s the WMD that made Iraq special.
Meh, I think Yglesias has been rather upfront about his relatively hawkish past, and how his thinking on the matter has evolved. And fwiw, I seem to generally prefer those types to the more smug war-opponents.
While undoubtedly a bad dude he was hardly a threat to his neighbors after the ass-kicking he got from Poppa Bush. Although our invasion has certainly strengthened Iran’s position in the Middle East. An outcome that was also predicted before the invasion.
@slag: Oh, it’s more than that. I thought invading Iraq was wrong strategically, tactically, politically, and most important, morally. For me, and apparently many others, it’s just cream on the top that we get “blamed” for being right for all the wrong reasons, when we were right for all the right reasons.
How many anti-war voices are given prominence in the MSM? How many pro-war voices (whether repentant or not)?
For those who were pro-war and have since changed their minds, I applaud you. It is very hard to change how one thinks. It is very hard to objectively assess yourself and make changes in thought and in deed.
except I would suggest to Tommy suck.on.this.
(you all are familiar with his post-facto rationalization for the war that included suck on this?)
Thanks I had forgotten that one – several European papers had long stories debunking that BS & even detailing where the lie came from & how the US incorporated it into the narrative.
Yglesias may have been wrong then, but at least he is not Megan McArdle now. Her lastest two posts on “bailing out the unions” (which is untrue and an inherently stupid thing to believe for someone that studies finance and economics) and some crazy-ass truther-type bullshit about what will happen when health-care gets repealed are without a doubt the dumbest fucking blog posts I have read this year.
I think changing one’s opinion as the facts and time dictate is not quite the same thing as being a hypocrite. Especially if you are loud and proud upon reaching the correct conclusion.
Which is why I am so skeptical of the tribal cheerleading/ dissing among bloggers and pundits- the bashing of People We Do Not like, and warm uncritical affirmation of Those We Love.
Even people like Sullivan, who I alternately like and diss, can be spot on correct (when critiquing Palinmania), or wildly off target (when critiquing Palinmania).
i don’t think it was at all contingent. it’s more like Iraq + al-Q is one bad thing; Iraq+WMD is another bad thing; Iraq + al-Q + WMD is a really bad thing.
that’s the way the AUMF Iraq reads:
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;
Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;
I was not paying attention to politics then, but I do remember seeing a clip of Cheney or Rumsfeld saying the war will take days or like 6 weeks and I said to myself, “what war lasts 6 weeks?” Even watching the statue topple and Saddam in his hidey hole, I knew it was a long way from over. History shows that.
Nah. I knew there was something terribly wrong with Lewis when the 60 Minutes profile started off with him saying that the interesting part of the story wasn’t the criminality, it was the mass delusion.
I found the arguments for the Iraq invasion and occupation to be staggeringly bad and unconvincing and mostly based on the notion that our government had secret evidence it couldn’t show us but which proved them right.
Plus everyone always knows that people who oppose wars are generally wrong and America-hating until proven right, and in this case loved Saddam and Muslim caliphates and wanted to have their babies.
At least the Hitchens types were pretty clear that they wanted to do this because Saddam was such an awful slaughtering tyrant (well, dressed up with a lot of nonsense about how we needed to have faith in the American system on bringing democracy to such a land), and they didn’t predicate (at least as I recalled) on an assumption of shortness and low cost — they were devoted to a moral cause and felt like we should sacrifice in pursuit of it.
I also found those warning of the severe dangers of banking de- and anti-regulation (note: this was no “modernization” or updating reform, just chaotic deformation) to be quite convincing.
I don’t find either of those two positions requiring particular brilliance to arrive at.
Actually, the war was over quickly. The state following the quickly won war wasn’t war but occupation.
I disagree. Saddam was a bad dude, sure, but there are plenty of countries run by bad dudes that we don’t invade and depose — except, of course, that Iraq had oil to exploit.
As for Iraq being a menace to neighboring countries, nonsense. Iran — with which Iraq was in a no-kidding shooting war, don’t forget — didn’t seem to regard Iraq as much of a threat, and after the pitiful performance of the Iraqi military — which, let’s not forget, didn’t even have an air force any more — it’s obvious that Iraq posed little military threat to anyone.
What it did, arguably, was exist as a strategic rival to the State of Israel, but absent Iraqi aggression, that isn’t a problem the United States ought to expend blood and treasure to remedy.
Same here. It was obvious — to me — from the getgo that the whole thing was made up and that Bush/Cheney had a hard on for an Iraq war and were going to have one, come hell or high water. Sadly, they got both hell and high water.
But it all had a big screaming neon sign on it, flashing out “this is a big fake this is a big fake this is a big fake”. I think they were SURPRISED they didn’t find any WMD because they thought they would be able to point to something somewhere and say, “see, we TOLD you Saddam was the biggest threat evah!”. But it was obvious that they didn’t really believe he was a threat at all.
I still don’t understand how anyone was fooled. Some patriots who turned off their brains for a while after 9/11 probably were excited about the idea of war against “those fucking towelheads” which I can understand (don’t condone, but understand). But how anyone could have believed the garbage the Bush Admin was spewing….
When I was getting educated in the 80s and 90s, liberal interventionism was a very popular point of view. The idea was, bearing in mind that there had been no major military commitments since Vietnam, that if there was a genocide going on or maybe serious human rights violations that we could use our military superiority to liberate oppressed people and set things right.
Bush was not a liberal interventionist, of course, but he very effectively co-opted the rhetoric of this movement. And Iraq was such a complete disaster that liberal interventionism is essentially dead at this point, and barely anyone will even admit that they once thought it was a good idea for our military to go around “spreading freedom” and the like. At the same time, Iraq wasn’t really an adventure in liberal interventionism and it’s a bit absurd that it should serve to discredit the concept for all time.
I expect it will take at least another generation before anyone can espouse the rhetoric of liberal intervention without being accused of sounding like George W. Bush. Of course, Iraq does offer some hard lessons for liberal interventionists, and one hopes those lessons won’t be forgotten if the ideology ever regains respectability.
In fairness, every single damned time the U.S. government and foreign policy establishment says we need to go to war or pay some terrorists to attack civilians, all the ideological establishment (news media, pundits, radio blatherers) go whole hog for it.
Average people may suspect the news media of being liars, but they don’t exactly get presented with too much prominent dissidence when the war-hawks begin waving their massive prosthetic erections around.
I guess the only one whose career was really hurt by the support of the Iraq War was Hillary Clinton.
There was a time when all the SURGE! propaganda had been so heavy and all this blather about the brand-spanking awsum new COIN approaches would work so wonderfully that I thought we had reversed course and the war-hawk establishment and punditariat was willing to consider new adventures, considering how we had finally figured out the way to fix everything in our two wars.
I’m not sure that’s wrong.
We haven’t even gotten to the first step, which is admitting we have a problem.
I see parallels between this and the oil spill. The country was attacked, and people started screaming that the government needed to DO SOMETHING! So we invaded two countries and tortured a bunch of people, which did what exactly? Now, there’s a horrible oil spill, and people are screaming for Obama to DO SOMETHING! You know, like nationalize BP and invade the Gulf of Mexico.
It really is hard to be right, when being right means being “counter-cultural”. It’s true. A lot of us are often right in that way, because we’re reflexively counter-cultural. But when you are pursuing career paths that require you to be mainstream/orthodox, it’s a lot more difficult.
Back then, being against the war was a counter-cultural thing. It’s true. This isn’t defending them, as much as it is damning our society at large.
And still to this day, a lot of people in one way or another defend Wall Street because that’s orthodox. Even people who are reliable on other issues often don’t get the big picture. They simply can’t comprehend a world where speculation is actively discouraged across the board. They still see a lot of that speculation as being actual investment, and still repeat the lie that it “creates jobs” and it’s “essential”.
But to be honest, not everybody can be like that. Like I said, I don’t think we really should blame people whose modest prosperity depends on following the status quo to some degree.
The Gulf War lasted 6 weeks, more or less. I’ve always felt like many of the Democrats voted for the war in Iraq because even if they had reservations, the possibility that it would be a complete cake-walk like the Gulf War and they would all end up looking like idiots for opposing it was a political risk they weren’t willing to take. And of course for members of the public who remembered the Gulf War, it was at least plausible that the war might be a quickie. We hadn’t had an extended shooting war since, well, you know when, so it’s not surprising that people had trouble imagining we’d still be working on getting out of Iraq 8 years later.
There is a solution to this problem.
Stop reading Megan McArdle.
I guess what I never understood was the appeal of war to avowed liberals. The whole motivation to invade Iraq struck me as a farce from the first, and I’m surprised it didn’t strike more people that same way.
I think this is all true. But I also think we need to take some accountability for addressing the problems that go along with being right as well.
For instance, George W Bush and Mr. Suck On This could easily still make the case that the Iraq War was right–strategically, tactically, politically, and morally. But their case would have to come with a caveat: If only the Iraqis would have seen how right they were! But one of the reasons that a lot of liberals (myself included) used for being against the war was that the Iraqis were never going to go for it–no matter how bad of a guy Saddam was, no matter how much freedom we goodheartedly intended to spread, etc, etc. We knew that we had to convince the people that our way of running a country was right and that going over there and telling them to “suck on this” certainly wasn’t going to get the job done.
And now, here we are saying that we were right about the Iraq War, right about coastal oil drilling, right about health care, etc, etc…If only the American people would see how right we are! The same rules apply to us as they did to the war-proponents. And the bridge between being right about something and being able to do right in the world is just as hard for us to cross (if not harder). Personally, I haven’t found a way to get the American people to see how right I am. But I do know that the “suck on this” strategery is not going to get the job done.
I don’t blame regular people (like you) who were for it. You didn’t have ten hours a day to read/research about it the way Beinart et al. presumably did. It’s easy to be wrong about something when you haven’t had time to research it.
HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist
I saw through the lies and distortion, and I credit my 80’s California state university (crazed hippy marxist) critical thinking courses for making me media literate, ie, skeptical about everything I read in the newspaper or see on TV. In my dream world these kind of courses would be mandatory in high school.
Well said! I’d add to your list the fact that to the extent there were grounds for concern about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq–and in the post 11 Sept world, it couldn’t be excluded that there were–there was an alternative to going to war, namely the intrusive inspections that were actually working. The US, at this stage with a good deal of support from the rest of the world, had Saddam on a very short leash, which could be tightened at will without war.
One of the big lies of the time, usually implicit but sometimes made explicit, was that the alternative to war was doing nothing. Opponents of the war could then be accused of favoring the latter in the face of a possibly very serious threat. But this, like so much else, was manifestly false.
Yglesias ran a Muslim off the stage during commencement??? Can someone clarify what this refers to?
those are self-hating liberals. i’ve known michael walzer all my life, he’s a colleague of my father’s. michael became more famous than my dad, although they were both writers/professors and social democrats in the european style. so why was it so easy for my dad to see through the horseshit of 2001 and so hard for michael? why did michael become a war-promoting douchebag?
because Michael really gave a shit about his career. he wanted to be famous. he liked hobnobbing at the IAS at princeton with the powerful. and he knew that his liberalism made him intrinsically an outsider.
us? well, we supported fred harris in 76, teddy k in 80, jesse in 84 adn 88, jerry brown in 92–e.g., we were self-marginalizers. and michael got to talk to important people. did he have to whore his soul and fuck his own beliefs right in the eye to do so? sure. but fuck it, he got to be on panels with bigwigs. yglesias (whose father i know, full disclosure, as he too was a colleague of my dad’s) has always been a whore. the difference between him and walzer is that walzer had a liberal career to throw in the shitter, whereas yglesias is nothing but ambition and desire. there’s no other there there.
i’m sure there’s an equivalent in the derivatives world, but on the political side our dear friend stalin long ago realized that there is no creature more predictable or valuable than the liberal intellectual useful idiot.
Argh, what a visual. Well put.
Really? I think we “learn” these kinds of lessons for about a nanosecond and when the next administration comes in, we’re all in for another round of fixing the gooks’/ragheads’ lives for them (aka killing them).
@Three-nineteen: So, our problem (that we’re not able to admit) is that we want our representatives to do something? The parallel…it’s pretty broad.
Shit, I don’t know why that’s not working. http://yglesias.blogspot.com/2002_05_26_archive.html#76991945
Oh fuck off.
I was strongly in favor of the war — so strongly, in fact, that I wrote an op-ed for my local paper laying out the reasons why it was necessary and right and good and it was just like if we had made the decision to invade Germany in 1938.
To my liberal friends, I made arguments like “the best way to deal with a swamp full of alligators is to drain the swamp.”
And “pre-emptive war now is the best way to avoid nuking the entire Middle East later, when 50,000 Americans are killed by a biological attack.”
I am deeply, deeply ashamed.
I don’t even have an excuse. I studied military history as a hobby in high school. I know better than to think there can ever be anything beneficial about war. Ever. War is all about killing and maiming human beings and destroying human lives, until one side just can’t take any more and gives up. That’s it. There isn’t any such thing as “war to make things better.”
What in Heaven’s name was I thinking?
@Three-nineteen: This is so wrong on so many levels that I have to ask: How old were you on 9/11/01? Not to be TOO dismissive, but your remembrance of the sequence of events is far, far from reality.
@elmo: “What in Heaven’s name was I thinking?”
I think that that is a very good question, one worthy of honest discussion. No snark. Many of my friends and relatives were very pro-war. I’ve never been able to figure it out and I’d love to hear from someone who has changed their mind.
It’s a shame to see most of you numbnuts still haven’t come around on our interventionism in the Kush, the Graveyard of Empires. Nobody hustles Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nobody.
Gotta wonder how many more troops, local civilians and billions of your dollars we’re going to squander there before we declare victory and retreat the hell out of there.
Good for you for admitting this. It’s kind of funny when you think back on it, I am sure.
Wouldn’t it be great if Peter Beinart and David Brooks wrote op-eds like your comment?
It didn’t take 10 hours to figure out the Cheney Administration was full of shit; it took 10 seconds. And if you still had any doubts, you could have watched The Daily Show or read The Onion to get the real story.
My brief period of bewilderment following 9-11 was followed by a profound sense of despair as the Bushites started doing things every day that just seemed so patently ridiculous. And I felt very isolated being in that 5% of people who disapproved of them at the time.
And yet, somehow, I became convinced that military action in Iraq was a good idea. I never believed any of the BS about WMD (although I did think Scott Ritter was a liar and an idiot) – anybody who claims they did is just trying to pretend they were lied to. No, I saw Iraq as two things: 1) a way to control oil stocks; 2) the softest path to punch a hole through the middle east. I’m trying to write a sentence explaining why I thought either of those made it a good idea, and I can’t. With #2, it at least made sense why they had picked Iraq – small population, mostly not loyal to the Sunni government, and yet a country that was far more relevant than any of the others that might be easily overrun.
Also – I live in San Francisco, and I recoiled at some legitimate nuttery on the other end of the spectrum. The second weekend after 9-11, I was at a rally in Dolores Park, and the speaker said – and I could not make this up – “On behalf of all the Latina lesbians, I say ‘Bomb the Pentagon.'” (Remember when test-bombing in Vieques was a huge issue?) People lectured me about how condemning the Taliban meant I was engaging in cultural relativism. And everything devolved into attacks on Israel and/or Zionism.
So I couldn’t exactly find middle ground. I don’t remember exactly how long the deranged support of the war took hold of my brain, but I do remember that I was driving home the day the invasion started and a new sense of despair washed over me – this was clearly a bad idea.
I find it very difficult to cast stones at people who held ridiculous beliefs for relatively short periods of time. I never bought into the “Bush, Gore, what’s the difference?” b.s. and I don’t look back and see other issues where I held such an utterly indefensible and wrong-headed opinion even after informing myself. And yet somehow I got caught up in this one. I was 25. Does that excuse me? I’d say no. But I would like to think that I learned from my mistake.
If Saddam was basically vanquished, then why was there still the no-fly zone?
@Brien Jackson: At the risk of sounding smug, it’s nice that MY has apparently come around (I don’t read him), but you can’t un-invade a country.
Doug! Don’t start down that path, it will lead you to re-examine what people who were right at the time now have to say. That’s the first step to becoming a firebagger, don’t do it!
@Gregory: People are missing my point. I was not in favor of the Iraq war, by the way. I want to know how those “prominent liberal voices” who were in favor of the war dealt with the failure of the UN inspection team to find WMD. That’s my complaint. It was, at least to me, clear that there were no WMD of any significance.
These days we hear a lot from “prominent liberal voices” about global warming and how we should heed the evidence and advice of scientists. So where were there heads at when a similar evidence/experts data set came in saying there were no WMD in Iraq?
Would Lewis have been aware of just how much fraud was involved in derivatives when he made that statement back in 2007?
I guess I mean “Look like you’re doing something”, with “something” being code for revenge. Invading Afghanistan to get to bin Laden may or may not have made us safer, but it sure felt good. Yelling at BP in a press conference every day will not fix the leak, but it would sure feel good. People don’t necessarily want solutions, they want stuff to make them feel better.
I was old enough to know that invading Afghanistan would kill tens of thousands of innocent people and had a very low chance of winning a war on “terror”.
Would you like to explain what you mean with your comment? If so, great! Then we could have a conversation about it. If not, keep you condescending bullshit useless comments to yourself.
@M. Carey: You gotta admit that the war did break the monotony of bourgeois life in the new 20th Century
Not necessarily. But it does constitute evidence that he was a cheerleader for the bad guys and their “weapons of mass destruction” when it counted. So screw him and his book.
I honestly don’t know if it really is worthy of discussion, though — because I’m not sure I can make it coherent enough to pick apart and expose. It’s kind of like the Underpants Gnome theory of international relations:
I don’t mean to be too snarky or simplistic, but it really was like a tremendous gap opened up in my analytical ability. The reasoning was something like this:
1. Saddam is an enemy of the US — we are technically still in a state of war with Iraq
2.. Saddam has a documented history of avoiding and subverting weapons inspections
3. Saddam has a documented history of at least flirting with support for terrorist groups and individuals
4. The current state of things with regard to Iraq — sanctions, troops massing in order to force inspections, constant flyovers enforcing the no-fly zone, etc. — is unsustainable
Those are all defensible positions, right? Reasonable and factual and based in logic and observable reality. So tell me how I got from there to here:
5. Therefore invasion is the only option left, and invasion will fix things and have no unintended consequences and will be relatively quick and low-casualty and candy and flowers for everyone! Democracy, whiskey, sexy!
I mean, WTF? I believe in the Law of Unintended Consequences like I believe in the laws of the universe. It’s like gravity or fluid dynamics to me. So where the fuck did it go in my head? Dunno. Shame on me.
Yeah. This, too — the part about establishing a military presence in the ME to deter Iran. Hey, at least you were only 25. I was in my late 30’s.
That depends on the context.
The run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq was not short, by any means. It took months.
Certainly, it’s reasonable to think that politicians and public intellectuals who supported the invasion ought to be forced out of public life, given that it did take months, the case in favor of the war was patently ridiculous, Bush had been a transparent liar before he was even elected president, etc etc etc, the war has been extremely costly to our nation (forget about the fact that wars of aggression are war crimes, since few people in the US seem to car about that, unfortunately).
The rest of you put a lot more thought into Iraq than I did at the time. I just saw how things were breaking – in Congress, in the Media, etc. – and listened to the rhetoric coming out of the administration and knew that – right or wrong – it was a done deal; we were invading. I saw that writing on the wall in September 2002. After that all I could I do was hope and pray that it would work out, even though I felt the occupation stage was going to be a nightmare.
The whole time I was thinking, “What’s the god damned hurry? Now, six months from now, it will be just the same.”
I was never a cheerleader for the invasion, but I never fought against it, because it was clear to me that it was unstoppable.
Fair enough. My point was that you’re not a hypocrite when you actually change your views. The smug reference was to the sort of commentator who thinks support of the Iraq-war means you have credibility on anything. For example, I believe it was Markos who made the “observation” that “all of the liberals supporting healthcare reform are the ones who supported Iraq,” which, in addition to not really being true, made no sense at all. What does one have to do with the other?
Well, his tone was pretty annoying, but he does have a point.
@El Cid: I was hoping Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN would blow me away. I knew we were invading no matter what, and I was REALLY hoping he would give me some good feelings about the whole scenario that was unfolding.
It was sort of worse than that, this was Yglesias case for war:
HENRY KISSINGER, AS ONE WOULD expect is grossly over-pessimistic in his assessment of the prospects for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. He’s not really wrong in anything he says: We should try and overthrow Saddam quickly, we should come up with a plan for what we hope to see afterwards, and we should try and get a lot of allies to help us.
Where he goes wrong is in predicting some kind of disaster should we fail to do these things. A long war, he says, could become a battle of Islam vs. the West, but there’s no reason to think that a war against Iraq would be long, and the West could beat Islam in a war. Why would the Muslims of the world even try to take us on? Maybe they’re just that crazy — I personally don’t think so — but if they all want to kill us, then we’ll just have to kill them all. No one should be needlessly antagonized, but there’s no need for us to be paralyzed with fear.
People lost their *minds*.
edit: I have no idea why the italics are like that, I’ve got the tags in the right place. Both grafs are Yglesias.
It’s even more depressing for me to think that I was a big Iraq war supporter. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about that reality.
But look, to be fair, I was young, in my early 20s, very much the same age of many of the liberal bloggers who were coming onto the scene at the time. We grew up during a time of relative peace, where the worst “war” we experienced was 100 hours of Persian Gulf ass-kicking.
The President of the United States stood at the podium, looked me in the eye, and told me that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were a clear and present danger to the United States, harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists, waiting to lash out at American interests with weapons of mass destruction. And I fell for it, hook, line and sinker, simple as that.
I didn’t live through the history of Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers, or the Nixon White House. I didn’t realize that the guy at the podium was a lying sack of shit. My parents saw it, but I didn’t make the connection.
Is it true each generation must repeat the mistakes of the previous one? It seems true sometimes. And that’s quite sobering.
@Geeno: What — you weren’t impressed when the guy whose first major role was to minimize My Lai waved his little medicine jar of garlic salt in front of the UN?
UN Resolution 314159
@Geeno: It’s almost been written out of history that immediately after Powell spoke both Blix and Elbaradei just eviscerated Powell’s case. IIRC they explained everything but the intercepts, which didn’t seem too damning anyway. I remember watching every news report and reading every column for weeks afterward that praised Powell’s supposedly airtight presentation, and I never heard anyone counter Blix or Elbaradei. Really, it was like I was living in a different plane of existence.
That’s around the time I discovered Atrios and Kos, thank god for them.
I watched that, then read simply everywhere across the intertubes and papers how convincing it was.
I’m not sure there’s much else that really showcases how damn depraved our media is when they keep putting him on TV as some authority.
I’ve read your comments on this thread and I’m honestly confused.
Because no one in America saw any political advantage in being labelled as the guy who gave Saddam Hussain the green light to use air-power against domestic rebels. Written in stone, that one was.
But you’re right about the WMD issue. Right before the actual invasion the UN inspectors proved that the entire – legal – case for war was full of shit. Anyone on ‘The Left’ who supported the invasion after that was doing so in the full knowledge they were providing cover for a bunch of lying gangsters who held them and their ‘liberal-interventionism’ in contempt.
But that’s just my opinion, and I’m still steamed that they got away with the whole “Blame the French” episode that actually gave them licence to dump the UN process. That shark must have been at least 60 foot high and still no one thought it was odd that they cleared it?
@Three-nineteen: A part I disagree with is that the entire country was not screaming that Bush should do something. Quite a large part of the country was screaming/protesting/etc. that he not do anything, especially anything that would result in further bloodshed, until we understood what had happened.
Clearly I should never have questioned your age. Gotta alot of ego wrapped up in your commentary, eh?
@El Cid: Yes, it was a feeble hope to hold, but it was all that was left, wasn’t it?
They’re invading. Nothing is changing that. Please, God, let their rationalization be good!
Alas, no such luck.
The Iraq invasion was MY turning point for supporting our administration during “war time”.
@elmo: I think you’re doing a good job of reasoning it out, for what my opinion is worth. As another poster posted, a lot of people sort of made the same assessment you did and jumped to the same conclusions that you write here. Like I said, several people I know did the same, too. I think it’s important to explore your thinking and theirs. Maybe it will help in future crises, maybe not. I guess in the end I’m just morbidly curious and you’re one of the few who seem to want to openly examine the evolution of their thoughts on 9/11->??->Iraq invasion->fixed.
BTW – I voted for Gore, and, after seeing W board a plane with a copy of Coulter’s “Bias” under his arm in October 2001, wondered how loudly the impeachment sirens would be singing if Gore had won.I suppose that should be harpies screeching, in keeping with the Greek mythos.
@Three-nineteen: Totally agree.
Being right may be hard as you say. But my lazy-ass rule of thumb for the last two decades has been to listen to Michael Moore. I’d put his track record up against almost anybody’s.
The thing is, we all talk about this like it’s ancient history. It’s still going on.
I have a friend who’s spent the better part of five years in Iraq. He was foolish enough to join the Minnesota National Guard back when that meant, you know, you served a couple of weekends a month and would be deployed for local emergencies.
The Guardsmen — how many of them are there? — were basically conscripted for this boondoggle, sacrificing life and lives. Literal pawns for the chess board of Bill Kristol and a few other trust-fund imbeciles. And for what? Because PNAC figured the whole thing would pay for itself in oil revenues?
Of course I’m wrong a good deal of the fucking time on an array of issues/topics/life choices/fantasy baseball team management decisions. But there’s being wrong, and then there’s being wrong.
This one was way too important to miss.
Who said the no fly zone wasn’t part of what made him toothless? The no fly was not there to protect Kuwait and Turkey.
Agreed he was a very bad man who did horrible things in his country but if that is the bar we are going to need a whole lot bigger army as there are a dozen or more worse situations today than Iraq 2002.
But people like the John Cole that is an Arab speaking ME expert, you know people that really understand the politics & dynamics of the area, said that freeing the Shia in Iraq would empower Iran and freeing the Kurds would empower them and disrupt Iraq and Turkey.
I have had this argument before, and I am on the side of, “It took me three seconds to realize this was a bad, bad, bad idea based on fictitious reasons.” I wasn’t following politics closely at the time, but I read a few things, watched The Daily Show, and I concluded that W. was full of shit. Now, to be fair, that’s my default position, so it would have taken me a lot to stray from it, but still.
I would just add that I had no sense of security before 9/11 (how could this happen to us?), so I never really got the whole freak-out after 9/11. In addition, while I am heartened by people who change their minds, it bothers me that they get more credit (i.e., Sully) than people who have held the mindset since the beginning get.
@DougJ: I don’t think “not having time to do research” absolves anyone. But I think it’s a good point.
There’s folks who were wrong and there’s folks who were wrong and don’t cop to it. A few days ago, Sullivan posted about how he’d fix the deficit by getting rid of unfunded tax cuts. He literally supported the tax cuts because they were unfunded… some sort of starve-the-beast logic. No acknowledgment of this what-so-ever, obviously.
Yglesias, Josh Marshall, etc repeatedly acknowledge their error on Iraq. And it really was a huge intellectual error; there was zero basis in fact to be convinced that Iraq posed a grave threat via WMDs.
I was wrong on Iraq in that I honestly didn’t think America would be dumb enough to invade (bomb them horrifically maybe).
I mean I had little to no military experience and was a dumb university kid but I honestly could not bring myself to believe that America would try to occupy a hostile (or hell even a neutral) nation after they’d failed so spectacularly in Vietnam and especially while Afghanistan was ongoing.
America voluntarily jumped into two landwars in Asia without a clear and present danger and I just honestly couldn’t believe that I was able to anticipate problems that very highly paid strategic thinkers couldn’t.
Taking all morality off the table it was just a very stupid tactical move.
Ah Michael Lewis. I have hated him every since Moneyball, because he presented MY Minnesota Twins winning as a bad thing. Fucker. Also his tone was so insufferable that I cannot bring myself to ever read another book.
Also his predictions in Moneyball are laughable. SABR is a useful tool but it’s used by all the organizations so the big guys now just buy the SABR guys as well as the 5-tool players. Nothing changed really.
I was opposed to invading Afghanistan, so yeah, it also took me about 10 seconds to realize that the Iraq thing was stupid, too. The time to stand up for peace was long past by the time Bush paraded around in the flightsuit, so I don’t have a ton of respect for liberals who supported either one or the other but now talk about primarying politicians who vote for funding the war(s).
mnpundit – you completely missed the point of Moneyball, I believe. Every organization now employs guys who do nothing but mathematical analysis of players. A decade ago…basically zilch. If there’s been a bigger and more unexpected change in how baseball teams are run that they made themselves, I don’t know what it is.