Reasons to Harp About Those Who Got It Wrong
I’m certainly not above engaging in bitter recrimination against those whose sagacity led us into this war, but as Glenn Greenwald notes, there are other reasons to consistently revisit this particular trail of blunders:
It is critical to focus on who was right about this war because this country, right now, has extremely difficult choices to make with regard to the disaster it has created in Iraq — and the first choice is whose judgment and foreign policy wisdom ought to be listened to and accorded respect.
As Glenn notes, one of those people was Howard Dean, who was successfully ridiculed for being profoundly right at the time. From a Dean speech in 2003:
We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.
If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration’s assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.
I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic.
I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.
It is possible, however, that events could go differently, . . . .
Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.
Anti-American feelings will surely be inflamed among the misguided who choose to see an assault on Iraq as an attack on Islam, or as a means of controlling Iraqi oil.
And last week’s tape by Osama bin Laden tells us that our enemies will seek relentlessly to transform a war into a tool for inspiring and recruiting more terrorists.
There are other risks. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.
As Teddy points out in the comments, failure to politically decapitate people like Cheney and Rumsfeld at the appropriate time brought us to this current mess:
When all this neo-con farce is put to rest, we must ensure it’s dead for good. Otherwise, the energetic and younger members of the current cabal will return in the third decade of this century with some "new" concept of Executive power and warmaking capability as well as some "new" paradigm for world domination. Yup, just like the youngest chief of staff in the White House (Cheney) and the youngest Defense Secretary (Rumsfeld) returned to visit this current hell upon us.
Not to mention the fact that these people will continue to be those charged with making decisions about the current debacle they have done so much to encourage. Redd linked to Wolcott this morning, who notes that they continue to pour gasoline on the situation with their phony concern for "free speech" (as if) with regard to the Danish cartoons to distract attention from the mess that they’ve made, though arguably this mess is just what they wanted all along.
Wolcott goes on to quote Robert Dreyfuss:
In a paper for an Israeli think tank, the same think tank for which Wurmser, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith prepared the famous ‘Clean Break’ paper in 1996, Wurmser wrote in 1997 : ‘The residual unity of the nation is an illusion projected by the extreme repression of the state.’ After Saddam, Iraq would ‘be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families,’ he wrote. ‘Underneath facades of unity enforced by state repression, [Iraq’s] politics is defined primarily by tribalism, sectarianism, and gang/clan-like competition.’ Yet Wurmser explicitly urged the United States and Israel to ‘expedite’ such a collapse. ‘The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance.’
Such black neoconservative fantasies — which view the Middle East as a chessboard on which they can move the pieces at will — have now come home to roost. For the many hundreds of thousands who might die in an Iraqi civil war, the consequences are all too real.
Until someone can point out the inherent logic to me of the John Dickerson’s of the world who have concluded that we early opponents of the war were wrong to be right even as the warmongers were right in their wrongness, I think it’s valid to keep harping on the scorecard. If not only to knock the struts out from underneath the GOP’s plan to run on "national security" in 2006, then surely to figure out who should be listened to from here on in based on who has had a clear-eyed vision of this mess from the start, as distinct from those who most certainly have not.