No Reward for Those Who Were Right About Iraq War

Timothy Noah, in Slate notes that you can still be taken seriously if you admit, like Noah has, that you were wrong in exaggerating Iraq’s threat and that you were mistaken in advocating war. And you can still be taken seriously even if you don’t admit those things and continue to bullheadedly insist that Saddam was a dangerous threat to the United States that had to be taken out with haste. “But the oddest outcome concerns not those who were wrong about Iraq, but those who were right. The political mainstream shuns them.”

Not long ago, I spoke with a Democratic moderate about the war in Iraq. He said he considered support for the Iraq war to be a necessary prerequisite to assuming any powerful role in the party. It showed that the person in question was willing to project U.S. force abroad. But wait, I asked. Do you still think the Iraq war was a good idea? After some hemming and hawing, he admitted that he’d rather we hadn’t gone in. Then why make support for a mistaken policy a litmus test? Because, he repeated, it shows that the person in question is willing to project U.S. force abroad. I should emphasize that we weren’t talking about whether troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, which is an entirely separate and vexing question that speaks to our responsibility in a country whose previous government we destroyed. What this man was saying was that it was better to have been wrong about Iraq than to have been right. That’s the prevailing (though not always conscious) consensus in Washington, and it’s completely insane.

And in an attempt to further discredit these modern-day “premature antifascists,” the CIA plans to issue a report speculating on what kinds of terrible weapons Saddam might have been able to create by if he hadn’t been taken out.

There’s no telling what they might load onto this rickety cart, since crystal-ball gazings like this are unverifiable and unfalsifiable, since any number of things might happen in the future, and since the CIA doesn’t seem to mind being used as a political tool even if that means they must be completely, ineptly wrong even about the present.

Whatever science fiction they come up with, you can bet that it will justify the invasion, and will produce headlines (due to hit the front pages, oh, right about the time of the Republican convention) along the lines of “Saddam Could Have Had Nukes Able to Hit U.S. By If Not Stopped, Says Report.”