We thought we were arguing about Iraq, but what might be best for 25 million Iraqis didn't figure very much in the argument. As usual we were talking about ourselves: what America is and how to use its frightening power in the world. The debate turned into a contest of ideologies masquerading as histories.
Critics of the war said all of this was irrelevant. The real issue was oil. But they got the relevance of oil backward.or he enumerates the ways in which he was misled (which, even at that point he could not fully accept):
I still do not believe that American or British leaders misrepresented Hussein's intentions or lied about the weapons they believed he possessed. ... But if lying was not the problem, exaggeration was, and no one who supported the war is happy about how ''a grave and gathering danger'' ... slowly morphed into an ''imminent'' threat. The honest case for war was ''preventive'' .... The case we actually heard was ''pre-emptive'' -- to stop a tyrant who already possessed weapons and posed an imminent danger.
The problem for my side is that if the honest case had been put -- for a preventive as opposed to a pre-emptive war -- the war would have been even more unpopular than it was.
But this is also a problem for opponents as well. If they didn't think the case for preventive war was proved this time, what will convince them next time?
While I thought the case for preventive war was strong, it wasn't decisive.So in other words, MI agrees that the case for war wasn't made. Even for the lower threshold required for a preventive war. And then, after chastizing the opponents for saying it was about oil, he drops this line:
...I knew that the administration did not see freeing Iraq from tyranny as anything but a secondary objective.
On March 19, the night the bombing began, I was with an Iraqi exile...
Besides, regime change has obvious costs ... I could respect anyone who argued that these costs were simply too high. What I found harder to respect was how indifferent my antiwar friends seemed to be to the costs of allowing Hussein to remain in power. The costs ... would be borne by the Iraqis alone. ...So when people said, ''I know he's a dictator, but . . . ,'' the ''but'' seemed like a moral evasion. And when people said, ''He was a genocidal killer, but that was yesterday,'' I thought, Since when do crimes against humanity have a statute of limitations? And when people said, finally, ''There are a lot of dictators, and the U.S. supports most of them,'' this sounded to me like a suave alibi for doing nothing. Now, a year later, I hear the same people tell me they're glad Hussein is gone, but. . . .
And I couldn't see how I could will the end -- Hussein must go -- without willing the only available means: American invasion, if need be, alone.
So I supported an administration whose intentions I didn't trust, believing that the consequences would repay the gamble. Now I realize that intentions do shape consequences.
Securing order would have meant putting 250,000 troops into the invasion as opposed to 130,000.
The administration, which never tires of telling us that hope is not a plan, had only hope for a plan in Iraq.
America had inherited its very own failed state.
The press coverage from Baghdad is so gloomy that it's hard to remember that a dictator is gone, oil is pumping again and the proposed interim constitution contains strong human rights guarantees.
If the United States falters now, civil war is entirely possible. If it falters, it will betray everyone who has died for something better.