Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five Years On

I'm obviously not the first to write a blog entry marking the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. I feel compelled to do this out of a sense that something roughly analogous to the post-Vietnam CYA exercise is being concocted by many of the rogues responsible for the mess in which we are seemingly inextricably mired at present. My purpose in jumping on this already overloaded bandwagon is to provide some links to articles by various people who wisely anticipated the disaster that was about to unfold.

On Sunday the New York Times, whose Op-Ed page has become a way station for William Kristol (one of the main architects of the war), convened a gaggle of neoconservative war promoters and a couple of their liberal enablers to ruminate on the lessons supposedly learned from our misadventure in Iraq. Needless to say, this opportunity to bemoan supposed minor misconceptions while reinforcing the major ones was not missed by such luminaries as Richard Perle and Paul Bremer.

Suffice it to say that the idea to invade Iraq, as far as the panelists were concerned, was absolutely sound; mistakes were made (as the official line has traditionally put it), but the various disasters along the way were either someone else’s fault or the sorts of things one must expect when taking on the nobel business of (a) demolishing a society whose history (about which our policymakers know almost nothing) extends back to the beginnings of human civilization and then, as if by magic, (b) installing (with seemingly no prior planning) a political system and laissez-faire economy amidst total chaos occasioned by our intervention. How could anyone have anticipated that such an enterprise would fail?

Actually, some of us did. Tom Engelhardt and Greg Mitchell provide a list of those who were evidently too perceptive to make the cut for the New York Times retrospective last Sunday.

James Fallows, writing in The Atlantic in 2002, also foresaw the disaster before it unfolded.

So did Paul Starr, Harold Meyerson and Robert Kuttner in a September 2002 article in TAP.

I’m sure there were many more. Please feel free to provide your own sources in the Comments section. It’s hard to understand how the newspaper of record could have selected for its retrospective only those who got it badly wrong while ignoring entirely those who got it right. Maybe the Grey Lady feels a need to cover her posterior as well?

No comments: