Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Glennissa Explains It All Again

Glenn Greenwald Continues Making Sense:

With virtually all of the predictions made by proponents of the Iraq invasion having been proven false, with a true strategic disaster on our hands, and with most of the country having concluded that the war was a mistake, war supporters have been desperately searching around for some way to salvage their reputations. On Thursday, John Hinderaker unleashed this self-justifying plea:
In truth, we likely won't know whether the Iraq war was a success or a failure, a good idea or a bad idea, for another twenty or thirty years, when the consequences of the effort not only in Iraq, but throughout the region, become clear. For now, we can only guess.
Hinderaker's plea that we won't know for 20 years if the Iraq war was a good idea prompted me to go and read what he was saying in April, 2003, which then led me to the comments he was excitedly pointing to during that time from the likes of Charles Krauthammer, Ralph Peters, Victor Davis Hanson and other similar types who were publicly engaged in all sorts of triumphant chest-beating war dances....

If there were any intellectual honesty in our political dialogue, people like Hinderaker and Peters and Hanson would be disgraced into silence. The falsity of their factual claims and the monumental error of their judgments are tantamount to a surgeon who removes the wrong organ, or a lawyer who sleeps through a murder trial, or a journalist who invents facts for his stories. Certain errors are so fundamental, embarrassing and reflective of a deficiency in judgment and an lack of trustworthiness that they stay with those individuals as an albatross around their necks for many years -- and rightfully so, because they are so credibility-destroying.

There is real value in examining this record. Despite their humiliating mistakes and deceit, people like Hinderaker, Hanson, Charles Krauthammer and others have not been disgraced into silence; to the contrary, they are still claiming the right to dictate how we proceed with our foreign policy, both in Iraq and beyond.

This is worth noting not because this is a time for recriminations or because of the satisfaction which one can derive from a celebratory "I-told-you-so" moment. 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. (emphasis, mine)

There are not many episodes in our national history which can compete with the invasion of Iraq in terms of the profound failures of every one of our institutions -- failures which allowed this sort of deceit and detachment from reality to persist. But until we identify those responsible and end the influence which they continue to exert over our political dialogue, we will continue to be at risk of following them down these same deceitful, destructive paths.

One of the points to emphasize here, which may not have been sufficiently clear, is that these war advocates were not content to simply run around clucking about how right they were, but were insistent that those who oppose the war admit their error and be ashamed. Here is a particularly illustrative example from Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, on April 11, 2003 (h/t Zack and Tom Tomorrow):
"FOR SUCH AN ADVANCED SPECIES, THEY SURE KNOW HOW TO RUB IT IN."-- Marge Simpson

Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen's cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn't rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a "quagmire" were wrong -- again! -- how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong -- again! -- how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error -- again -- and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about "civilian casualties" now seem almost disappointed that there weren't more -- again -- and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American "liberators" were proven wrong -- again -- as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn't stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It's probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.

Nah.

While I disagree with Greenwald's implicit assertion that people like Hinderaker have any real effect on, or say in, policy decisions, I do agree utterly with the soul of his point. Pundits like Hinderaker and Glenn Reynolds were not only wrong about Iraq, they were arrogant, self-righteous boobs about Iraq. It's one thing to have faith in your vision. It's another to shit all over the "anti-war folks" because they've disagreed with you. Or to claim any sort of credibility on this war when you've been so very, very wrong about the way in which it's been handled.

Whether intervention in the middle-east was/is necessary is a salient, important point to continue debating. Whether we handled this intervention correctly or even competently has been resoundingly answered in the negative.

11 Comments:

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

And they say the internet is a rage enabler.

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

That, and a spin-disabler.

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

And a CD labeler.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

And a stone soup ladler.

 
At 2:37 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Because I'm lazy and having spent the last two days in Milwaukee, I'm way behind on my work:

http://www.slate.com/id/2138332/

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

As usual, Hitchens makes good points, but alienates anyone who doesn't already agree with him by suggesting that the last "phony pacifists" be strangled with the entrails of the last suicide bomber.

One should not confuse reluctance to engage in unilateral preemptive strikes with phony pacifism. Nor should one make the mistake of confusing the desire to get it right over the desire to get it done quickly.

At the same time, one should not fool themselves into believing that Saddam presented no threat. It's a question of what sort of threat he did present (one not dependent on "Suggestive and incriminating connections," but upon hard fact), and what reasoning we have for choosing this moment in time to strike.

It's a question of practicality and realism, in terms of what the act of war will yield in terms of benefits to our country, and what sacrifices will need to be made.

That said, we've now heard from N. Korea about their ability to attack us with nuclear weapons, and their willingness to do so. What's your take on that?

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Before getting to North Korea, one must first acknowledge the wisdom of Parker and Stone in recognizing the threat of Kim Jong Il long ago.

All hail Cartman!

Now, what do I think about North Korea's possession of Nuclear Weapons and their willingness to use them? I think we should take every available and reasonable measure to ensure that does not happen. The problem is this: There are no good options, only less bad options.

An attack is basically off the table. They have nuclear weapons and would use them. The death toll of such use would likely be in the millions. And it would make Iraq look like a day in the park. Seoul would be liquidated.
It should be noted that some people claim that Iraq should not have been attacked because there were greater threats out there (i.e., North Korea). I've addressed this at length before, but let me repeat what I said: You don't attack Iraq because it's a bigger threat than North Korea, you attack Iraq because you don't want it to become as big a threat as North Korea. Now, Saddam's proximity of obtaining those weapons comes into play when determining whether and when he should have been attacked, but not in lieu of attacking North Korea.

Since our leverage on North Korea is minimal, we need to get as much help from the Russians and Chinese as we can to push the North Koreans. Of course, the Chinese and Russians will do no such thing, since they (mistakenly, I believe) think that it is in their strategic best interests to have North Korea pester the United States from time to time. We may not be at war with the Chinese and Russians, but we're certainly strategic competitors. Once again, I think the Chinese are wrong in thinking that this is in their best interest.

Meanwhile, Hitchens alienates some, but I think he's referring to some, not all. When he talks about phony pacifists, he's talking about phony pacifists. Not those concerned with a unilateral preemptive option. He's talking about those who referred to the reign of Saddam as if it were a heaven on Earth. Not those who were legitimately concerned about the relative costs of such an undertaking.

In essence, and it takes a certain knowledge of his background to understand this, that his contempt is with his former allies and friends, Communists. Those who care nothing about the citizens of the world suffering under Saddam or Kim Jong Il, or the Taliban or Cuba, or Sudan, or any of the thousands of places where people suffer a horrible fate. His former allies only care when people are suffering due to the actions of the United States, Britain, or Israel.

In short, he's not referring to you.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Meanwhile, this guy is a fun guy to read if you're me:

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395658749&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

This is a clip from an interview with Chris Hitchens that gets to who he is referring about re: "phony pacifists."

HH: When you say pro-war but on the other side, what do you mean, Christopher Hitchens?

CH: Well, I object to people like Michael Moore for example, or Ramsey Clark being referred to as...in the New York Times as anti-war activists, or anti-war campaigners. They're not anti-war at all. For one thing, they're not pacifists, particularly not Ramsey Clark. For another, they've declared that they believe the beheaders and jihadists and the blowers up of Mosques and mutilators of women and so forth are a liberation force or an insurgency. Michael Moore even said they were the modern equivalent to the American founding fathers. So in that case, fine. George Galloway's the same. Many of them are. They're not really against the war. They're not anti-war, but on the other side in the war for civilization, and they should be called out on it and given their right name.

 
At 1:49 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Put in that context, his comment makes more sense.

And your analysis of N. Korea pretty much lines up with mine.

Will read that article this afternoon, broheim.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Lots of crazy things going on when you get here in April.

 

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