Operation Told You So
No one could have anticipated the Iraq disaster, except the 40% who did
Allan Uthman
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Operation Told You So
No one could have anticipated the Iraq disaster, except the 40% who did
Allan Uthman

With 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 democracy.

Democracy 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.

But 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.”

They 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.

But 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 slapped.

Seriously—go 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:

“Delaying action against Saddam is like waiting for a killer to knock at the door… The kind of harm Saddam can deliver will take thousands of American lives if we wait.”
–Cal Thomas, October 9, 2002

“Even today, Saddam Hussein has chemical and biological weapons that violate the terms of that treaty; he is rebuilding weapons facilities, assembling new squads of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, and continuing to seek nuclear weapons, all clear treaty violations.”
–Maggie Gallagher, October 14, 2002

“The threat of mass death on a scale never before seen residing in the hands of an unstable madman is simply intolerable--and must be pre-empted.”
–Charles Krauthammer, October 7, 2002

They 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.

And 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.

But 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.

But it hardly matters. The fact is they were wrong. They were wrong, and the wussy, unpatriotic, “pre-9/11 mentality” liberals were right.

I’m 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.

They 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.

We 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.

There 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.

And 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.

But 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.



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