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More Iraq Links


Our readers have reminded me of a lot of good stuff in addition to the open tabs I already had, so:

  • David Rees had two great posts on the uniquely irritating Michael Ignatieff.  (“The narrative tension is: Can the hero be wrong about everything, survive, and still convince people he’s smarter than everyone in Moveon.org?”)
  • A very useful compilation of the vicious attacks people who were right about the war were consistently subjected to.
  • Henley’s explanation for why he was right is also very good. (I’m especially reminded of Randy Barnett, who took some time off from arguing that the entire 20th century welfare state is immoral to assert that spending trillions of dollars to attack a country that posed no threat to the United States was just dandy.)
  • Unless I’ve missed something, Dan Savage hasn’t written anything for the 10th anniversary.   But he really should.
  • Stephen Walt reminds us who was right — i.e. most of the actual experts in the field, from a variety of ideological and methodological perspectives.
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  • stuck working

    Uh, it’s David Rees who wrote those hilarious posts on Ignatieff, not David Ress.You may also know Rees as the author of the brilliant “Get Your War On” comic. He is now an artisanal pencil sharpener.

    • peggy

      David Rees, “Ignatieff has you nailed. You dumb-asses who were right about everything for the wrong reasons, instead of wrong about everything for the right reasons.”

  • Paulk

    You do have to love Conner’s last bit, where he compares the way the press singled out idiots at peace rallies to how they singled out idiots at Tea Party protests. Nothing like a good point spoiled by a simply terrible analogy.

    • Paulk

      Conor. Sorry.

    • John

      He compares it to “the conservative account of how the media covered Tea Party rallies” [emphasis mine]. That seems distinct.

  • commie atheist

    Don’t know if you’ve mentioned this yet, but Megan McArdle’s “Two-By-Four” post was one of my personal favorites.

  • zombie gert frobe

    I’ll just leave this here.

  • Brutusettu

    From the Walt link:

    The United States would win a war against Iraq, but Iraq has military options—chemical and biological weapons, urban combat—that might impose significant costs on the invading forces and neighboring states.

    Walt and the other signers were wrong for all intents and purposes about that bold part. Albeit there were chemical and biological weapons that were effectively useless and far, far, far too few to inflict much additional casualties.

    • Meh, if you’re going to put up a bright line fence and declare that only people who rejected the notion that Iraq had some amount of “WMDs” altogether can be right by any measure, you’re going to wind up with a pretty unworkable standard for no good reason, I think.

  • guy on the inside

    I think Dan Savage is on vacation right now. His Savage Love Column was a repeat this week.

  • Tom Scudder

    The Dan Savage link makes me sad. Not surprised, really, but sad.

    • McAllen

      Dan Savage is good on gay issues (well, really white men’s gay issues), but ranges from OK to bad on almost everything else.

  • Warren Terra

    The Dan Savage link really is terrible, an excellent example of its execrable genre. Shame, because while I’ve never been terribly interested in Savage’s own work, I’ve long been a big fan of the Seattle Alt-Weekly he heads, The Stranger.

    Does anyone know whether he’s ever revisited the topic, confronted how wrong he was on Iraq?

    • Tom Scudder

      Here’s something from 2005, in the “dammit, the war *I* wanted was all rainbows and puppies and manly men with big guns looking hot, but George Bush messed it all up” genre:


      • Halloween Jack

        Yeah, that’s really too much of the “the only real problem is that they’re not doing it right” bullshit.

  • david

    Wow that’s something. Dan Savage sure did support this invasion for the right reasons.

  • Anonymous

    Can someone explain why the Liberal Party chose Michael Ignatieff as its leader? Were they that bereft of anybody to lead them?

    • bobbyp

      I believe he is its only member.

  • James E. Powell

    From the Dan Savage column linked in the post:

    We’re at war with a large and growing Islamo-fascist movement that draws its troops and funds from all over the Islamic world.

    Does anyone really say this anymore? I mean both the “large and growing” part AND the “Islamo-fascist movement” part.

    Has anyone admitted that the 9/11 attacks caused him to inflate the threat from Al-Qaeda to a size totally divorced from reality?

    • wengler

      Islamo-fascist was always a horrible term to begin with. Where is the nationalist character of the movement? The elevation of corporate and state institutions above the individual? The ideal of an all-powerful leader figure?

      All it tells us is that the author is a racist and a bigot that can’t tell a Unitarian from a Pentecostalist. They are all of the same religion after all.

    • I think the argument lives on among defenders of the Bush-Obama war in Af-Pak. They basically assume the people we are murdering now are part of “Al Qaeda” and were thus part of the 9/11 conspiracy, when in fact we got the 9/11 guys and are now just using the “Al Qaeda” label in the same way the conservatives used “Islamofascist”.

      • Dilan doesn’t even see the irony in this comment he wrote about inappropriate conflation.

        Dilan is a source of humor.

        • Joe, the fact of the matter is that you refuse to learn the actual lesson of the Iraq War, which is that there is actually no bright line between “good” humanitarian wars and “bad” wars, and that it is easy to trump up “good” reasons to justify just about any conflict.

          And the reason you refuse to learn that lesson is because you don’t want to have to face the fact that the people to your left, the DFH’s, understand foreign policy better than you do and that the “isolationists” (who aren’t actually isolationist, but whatever) actually had a principled and cogent objection not only to the Iraq War but to other wars that you liked better.

          You are the problem. We know the neocons are going to support wars. But it’s precisely because too many people on the ostensible LEFT don’t learn the lesson that war is a bad thing that the US continues to get its citizens murdered in foreign conflicts, and continues to murder foreign civilians.

          Sorry, but until you examine WHY it is you think bombing foreigners is OK as long as you have a “good” reason for it, and try to develop some ACTUAL criteria that don’t inevitably lead to a potential justification for the Iraq War (such as rape rooms or potential self-defense (preemption)), you don’t have anything intelligent to say about military policy and should at least stop being part of the problem.

  • wengler

    I think there should be a special acknowledgement of Scott Ritter’s role in attempting to stop the war. He’s stuffed away in some prison somewhere in what is likely an entrapment scheme involving soliciting teenage girls, but he was very much alone for much of the time out in the media telling the truth that no one in power wanted to hear.

    • Halloween Jack

      Uh, no; Ritter is a two-time offender who did get a break after his first arrest… and went out and did the same thing eight years later. There probably are genuine cases of “teen chat” entrapment out there, but I don’t think that this is one of them.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yeah, entrapment might be a plausible defense the first time; the third time, not so much. And given the time frame there’s no reason to believe the third arrest was politically motivated.

  • Uncle Kvetch

    I’m a huge fan of Savage in every other respect, but his war cheerleading still stings. That said, this comment from Doctor Memory at Crooked Timber brings the nuance:

    “I can’t really argue with those people incapable of forgiving Dan Savage for his idiotic support of the invasion in 2002: in the end, it’s not forgivable. But I have to give him a bit of credit for one thing: unlike nearly other now-embarrassed (or not) cheerleader for the war, he actually learned the correct lesson from it, namely that he was not competent to comment on foreign policy and has, amazingly, refrained from discussing it ever since.

    Would that the rest of our ever-falling-upward punditocracy (Andrew Sullivan, Megan McArdle, Richard Cohen, etc etc ad infinitum ad nauseam) were possessed of such well-honed senses of shame and self-assessment.”

    • Halloween Jack

      That’s a good point.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        It is, and it gets to something that’s come up quite a few times in discussions of these retrospectives: “Well, they’ve said they were wrong…what more do you want from these people?”

        I don’t “want” anything from Andrew Sullivan or Tom Friedman or insert-your-own-preferred-object-of-love-to-hate-here. I simply maintain that the horrific judgment that they displayed 10 years ago is enough for me to conclude that I can disregard their thoughts about pretty much anything, because they demonstrated themselves to be fundamentally shitty thinkers. And unlike Dan Savage, it’s not like they have some other area of interest and expertise where they actually do make a genuine contribution, and Iraq was just a case of “It’s not my bailiwick, but here’s my $0.02.”

        No one has a right to be paid attention to, even if they work for the New York Fucking Times.

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  • Malaclypse

    This really should perhaps be added to the list of links.

    Fucking hell. Words fail.

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