My rule of thumb is that almost every current, know-it-all critic, whether a Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chris Matthews (“we are all neo-cons now”), Francis Fukuyama, etc., at one time or another voiced support for removing Saddam and bringing war to Iraq.
One constant in their various escape hatches is that a particular lapse, a certain mistake alone explains their abandonment of earlier zeal—too few troops, disbanding the Iraqi army, not trisecting the country, the tenure of Donald Rumsfeld, etc.
In contrast, the simple truth is too bitter to confess: their support follows the pulse of the battlefield. When the statue fell and approval for the war hovered near 80%, few wanted to be on the wrong side of history. But fast forward three years plus: after well over 2,000 battle deaths, and chaos in Iraq, most not only don’t wish to be associated with the stasis, but contort to assure that they never supported the war in the beginning (hard to do with footprints on the internet), or were supposedly betrayed by the incompetence of others.
My own views remain the same. While I didn’t support removing Saddam prior to September 11, I am glad we did afterwards.
So it seems to me that Hanson must have been writing checks to Howard Dean for President fund for some time now. Dean, of course, has had the good fortune and good sense to be right about the war from the beginning. He never supported the war, predicted that the occupation would be a disaster, predicted that it would weaken our position in Afghanistan, and noted that it would strengthen the hand of Iran and North Korea. He also correctly pointed out that the capture of Saddam Hussein wouldn’t change the course of the war, a statement for which he was roundly denounced at the time.
So VD Hanson must be a big Dean fan, right? He does like consistency, doesn’t he? Well, maybe not…
Dean seems to evoke Vietnam without any inkling how close the United States was, after a decade of ordeal, to achieving many of the goals originally envisioned — something like a viable South Korean government that, unlike its Communist counterpart, might have a chance to evolve into a truly consensual society. Much less does he cite the millions who perished, were incarcerated, or sent into exile following the establishment of a cruel Stalinist regime, or the effect of that defeat on the security of the U.S. and its allies, as later demonstrated in Cambodia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central America.
Forget that Hanson has only the most tenuous grasp on the reality of the Vietnam conflict, and instead savor the love of Dean. More love here:
When I turn on the TV and see some wild-eyed crazy-like public figure ranting, it is not a John Bircher frothing about pure drinking water and statesmen of dual loyalties, but prominent Democratic politicians like an Al Gore or Howard Dean screaming to the point of exhaustion, alluding to the end of America as we have known it, and citing a “betrayal” of the United States.
Ooh, and here too:
Lincoln was often cartooned as an ungainly ape. During the hysterics over the Korean War, George Marshall — who earlier oversaw the U.S. military victory of World War II and aid to a postwar starving Europe — was called a “front man for traitors” and “a living lie” by Indiana Sen. William Jenner.
In this context, Howard Dean’s assertion that the present war is unwinnable or John Kerry’s claim that our troops are engaging in terrorizing Iraqis is hardly novel.
So I’m left confused; VD Hanson claims that he’s particularly incensed by people who favored the war at one point but oppose it now. His record (and I assure you that this was quite representative) seems to indicate that he doesn’t have much regard for Howard Dean, who’s been quite consistent in his position on the war. I don’t know what I should think; if I were the more cynical type, I might think that VD Hanson was a liar, and that he really just loathes everyone who opposed the war at any time. The more optimistic take, I suppose, is that he’s just intellectually confused.
And while I’m on the subject, Hanson ends his post with this:
A final note. At some point all these retired generals need to simply quiet down and think. In World War II, Nimitz or Eisenhower never blamed the Secretary of War or FDR for the mistakes on Iwo Jima or the Kasserine Pass. Instead, they called in their top brass, drew up a plan, followed it, and then presented a successful fait accompli to their civilian overseers. In other words, our four-stars need to summon their colonels and majors in the field, draw up a military strategy that ensures our political aims of seeing a stable consensual Iraq, and then win. Blaming Bush, or faulting Rumsfeld is a waste of time; figuring out as military officers how to achieve victory over a canny enemy is all that matters.
Right. So these men that each have, literally, infinitely more military experience than Hanson get some time in the corner to think about what they’ve done. I’d suggest a relatively simple answer, Vic; the difference is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a competent executive in a well conceived and winnable war, characteristics that George W. Bush and the current conflict lack.