Saturday, March 22, 2008

"It's just rude to keep harping on how utterly wrong we were."

Glenn Geenwald has been marveling at the fifth anniversary self justification and hurt reproach at their critics of those who supported the war with Iraq.
Anne-Marie Slaughter -- a supporter of the Iraq invasion, a member of the hawkish wing of the Democratic Party Foreign Policy Community, and the Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs -- has written an amazingly petulant and self-pitying piece at The Huffington Post that is worth looking at because her mindset is now the norm for our political and media elite.
Petulant and self pitying were the words that came to mind when Michael Ignatieff wrote his 'OK I was wrong, but at least I wasn't a dirty fucking hippie' mea culpa for his Iraq war support. The operating premise of the Bush cheer-leaders, Neocons and Neolibs is that yes, they fucked up massively, but gee, it wasn't actually their fault, and of course they're the only ones who can be trusted with the situation now and harping on how utterly wrong they were then just isn't helpful. Plus all the people who were right, were right for the wrong reasons - so that's almost the same as saying they were wrong...er...yeah that's the ticket...

And that's the point. This plea that we all just forget about the unpleasant past -- stop trying to figure out who was responsible for the Iraq War -- has become the principal self-defense weapon of the pro-war political establishment. That's their only hope for evading responsibility for what they've done. It's also the central hope on which the entire McCain campaign rests -- that we should just all forget about the painfully wrong and misleading things John McCain said and did in making himself into the prime cheerleader for the most disastrous and unpopular war in American history, and focus instead on how he (somehow) has the experience and judgment to lead us to glorious Victory.

But why would we, and why should we, just ignore the question of who spawned this disaster? In trying to determine what to do now, isn't it rather important to know whose judgment and knowledge can be trusted and whose should be considered worthless? From the perspective of their own-self interest, the demand by war advocates like Slaughter and McCain that everyone forget about what they said and did in the past is understandable -- it's natural to hope that one's own wretched and destructive conduct would be forgotten -- but for the country, doing that would be completely irrational.

Imagine if you went to a hospital to have an operation on your knee, and your surgeon completely botched it, permanently shattering your knee instead of fixing it and, in the process, needlessly removed your healthy kidney and recklessly damaged your heart and lungs. Then, as you tried to decide what you should do to rectify the damage -- and you sought out the advice of doctors who presciently warned you not to have that doctor operate -- the guilty surgeon insisted that he be allowed to operate again to fix it and that you listen to him regarding what should be done.

And when you screamed at the guilty surgeon -- as every sane person would -- to stay as far away from you as possible and that he was the last person from whom you wanted advice, he kept telling you: "Oh, forget about the past. This isn't about assigning blame. What matters is figuring out what to do now, how to fix this." You would think such a person insane for that line of thought. But that's exactly what war advocates like Anne-Marie Slaughter -- and John McCain -- are insisting that we do. That's how the establishment can insist that the Iraq War is an asset for John McCain even though Americans overwhelmingly think that his support for it was a grave mistake. "Forget the past."

Some of the war advocates have been a bit more humble in their apologias, Andrew Sullivan deserves credit for recognizing that he was 'unspeakably condescending' in his attitude and behavior towards the people who turned out to be right. In response to Sullivan's more recent follow up to this theme, John Cole goes even further:
I thought I would list what I got wrong:

Everything.

And I don’t say that to provide people with an easy way to beat up on me, but I do sort of have to face facts. I was wrong about everything.

I was wrong about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive warfare.
I was wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
I was wrong about Scott Ritter and the inspections.
I was wrong about the UN involvement in weapons inspections.
I was wrong about the containment sanctions.
I was wrong about the broader impact of the war on the Middle East.
I was wrong about this making us more safe.
I was wrong about the number of troops needed to stabilize Iraq.
I was wrong when I stated this administration had a clear plan for the aftermath.
I was wrong about securing the ammunition dumps.
I was wrong about the ease of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I was wrong about dissolving the Iraqi army.
I was wrong about the looting being unimportant.
I was wrong that Bush/Cheney were competent.
I was wrong that we would be greeted as liberators.
I was wrong to make fun of the anti-war protesters.
I was wrong not to trust the dirty smelly hippies.

I mean, I could go down the list and continue on, but you get the point. I was wrong about EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. THING. It is amazing I could tie my shoes in 2001-2004
Now is the time to toss the so called 'serious people' who still blindly follow the same operating premises and unexamined assumptions over the side and start listening to those who were right from the beginning or have acknowledged how completely wrong they were from the beginning without defensiveness or excuse. That means the 'dirty fucking hippies' who were saying 'this is a spectacularly bad idea' in 2002/2003, that means the people who have repudiated not just their decisions then, but the ideas underpinning them, and yes, that means the single remaining contender for the Office of the Presidency who opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, not, like Hillary Clinton, just as a tactical decision in the last year when she was running for the office in an anti-war polling environment.

We're all of us, the whole damn world, in a huge mess here. The people who got us into it deserve to be mocked, shunned and ultimately ignored. What they do not deserve, what the rest of us emphatically do not deserve, is for them to get yet another chance to fuck things up even worse.

3 comments:

janfromthebruce said...

Chiff, excellent post.

since Afghanistan was the beginning of the invasion war front, this seems to apply to there too. The Afghanistan government did not invade the US, and became easy targets.

Cliff said...

And of course 'Cui Bono', Who profits.

Talking about stuff like gas pipelines from the Caspian, the privatization of military support massively profiting a company run by one of the wars biggest backers, the Shock Doctrine as applied to military occupation - talking about any of these things is also 'not helpful.

janfromthebruce said...

Yes, let's not mix the obvious with the obvious. Folks might connect the dots.

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