Off Topic Messages

"What I Got Wrong About the War" The Right Blinks?

Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:01 am

Some interesting right-wing defections from support of the war in Iraq...Opinions?

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/print ... 98,00.html

Sunday, Mar. 05, 2006
What I Got Wrong About the War
As conservatives pour out their regrets, I have a few of my own to confess

By ANDREW SULLIVAN

Was I wrong to support the war in Iraq? Several conservatives and neoconservatives have begun to renounce the decision to topple Saddam Hussein three years ago. William F. Buckley Jr., as close to a conservative icon as America has, recently wrote that "one can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." George F. Will has been a moderate skeptic throughout. Neoconservative scholar Francis Fukuyama has just produced a book renouncing his previous support. The specter of Iraq teetering closer to civil war and disintegration has forced a reckoning.

In retrospect, neoconservatives (and I fully include myself) made three huge errors. The first was to overestimate the competence of government, especially in very tricky areas like WMD intelligence. The shock of 9/11 provoked an overestimation of the risks we faced. And our fear forced errors into a deeply fallible system. When doubts were raised, they were far too swiftly dismissed. The result was the WMD intelligence debacle, something that did far more damage to the war's legitimacy and fate than many have yet absorbed.

Fukuyama's sharpest insight here is how the miraculously peaceful end of the cold war lulled many of us into overconfidence about the inevitability of democratic change, and its ease. We got cocky. We should have known better. The second error was narcissism. America's power blinded many of us to the resentments that hegemony always provokes. Those resentments are often as deep among our global friends as among our enemies--and make alliances as hard as they are important. That is not to say we should never act unilaterally. Sometimes the right thing to do will spawn backlash, and we should do it anyway. But that makes it all the more imperative that when we do go out on a limb, we get things right. In those instances, we need to make our margin of error as small as humanly possible. Too many in the Bush Administration, alas, did the opposite. They sent far too few troops, were reckless in postinvasion planning and turned a deaf ear to constructive criticism, even from within their own ranks. Their abdication of the moral high ground, by allowing the abuse and torture of military detainees, is repellent. Their incompetence and misjudgments might be forgiven. Their arrogance and obstinacy remain inexcusable.

The final error was not taking culture seriously enough. There is a large discrepancy between neoconservatism's skepticism of government's ability to change culture at home and its naiveté when it comes to complex, tribal, sectarian cultures abroad.

We have learned a tough lesson, and it has been a lot tougher for those tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis and several thousand killed and injured American soldiers than for a few humiliated pundits. The correct response to that is not more spin but a real sense of shame and sorrow that so many have died because of errors made by their superiors, and by writers like me. All this is true, and it needs to be faced. But it is also true that we are where we are. And true that there was no easy alternative three years ago. You'd like Saddam still in power, with our sanctions starving millions while U.N. funds lined the pockets of crooks and criminals? At some point the wreckage that is and was Iraq would have had to be dealt with. If we hadn't invaded, at some point in the death spiral of Saddam's disintegrating Iraq, others would. It is also true that it is far too soon to know the ultimate outcome of our gamble.

What we do know is that for all our mistakes, free elections have been held in a largely Arab Muslim country. We know that the Kurds in the north enjoy freedoms and a nascent civil society that is a huge improvement on the past. We know that the culture of the marsh Arabs in the south is beginning to revive. We know that we have given Iraqis a chance to decide their own destiny through politics rather than murder and that civil war is still avoidable. We know that the enemies of democracy in Iraq will not stop there if they succeed. And we know that no perfect war has ever been fought, and no victory ever won, without the risk of defeat. Despair, in other words, is too easy now. And it too is a form of irresponsibility.

Regrets? Yes. But the certainty of some today that we have failed is as dubious as the callow triumphalism of yesterday. War is always, in the end, a matter of flexibility and will. And sometimes the darkest days are inevitable--even necessary--before the sky ultimately clears.

Visit Andrew Sullivan's blog, the Daily Dish, at time.com

********************************************

The New York Times, March 10, 2006
The Conservative Epiphany
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Bruce Bartlett, the author of "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted
America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," is an angry man. At a recent
book forum at the Cato Institute, he declared that the Bush
administration is "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and
"inept."

It's no wonder, then, that one commentator wrote of Mr. Bartlett that
"if he were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald
Duck during one of his famous tirades, with steam pouring out of his
ears."


Oh, wait. That's not what somebody wrote about Mr. Bartlett. It's what
Mr. Bartlett wrote about me in September 2003, when I was saying pretty
much what he's saying now.


Human nature being what it is, I don't expect Mr. Bartlett to
acknowledge his about-face. Nor do I expect any expressions of remorse
from Andrew Sullivan, the conservative Time.com blogger who also spoke
at the Cato forum. Mr. Sullivan used to specialize in denouncing the
patriotism and character of anyone who dared to criticize President
Bush, whom he lionized. Now he himself has become a critic, not just of
Mr. Bush's policies, but of his personal qualities, too.


Never mind; better late than never. We should welcome the recent
epiphanies by conservative commentators who have finally realized that
the Bush administration isn't trustworthy. But we should guard against
a conventional wisdom that seems to be taking hold in some quarters,
which says there's something praiseworthy about having initially been
taken in by Mr. Bush's deceptions, even though the administration's
mendacity was obvious from the beginning.


According to this view, if you're a former Bush supporter who now says,
as Mr. Bartlett did at the Cato event, that "the administration lies
about budget numbers," you're a brave truth-teller. But if you've been
saying that since the early days of the Bush administration, you were
unpleasantly shrill.


Similarly, if you're a former worshipful admirer of George W. Bush who
now says, as Mr. Sullivan did at Cato, that "the people in this
administration have no principles," you're taking a courageous stand.
If you said the same thing back when Mr. Bush had an 80 percent
approval rating, you were blinded by Bush-hatred.


And if you're a former hawk who now concedes that the administration
exaggerated the threat from Iraq, you're to be applauded for your
open-mindedness. But if you warned three years ago that the
administration was hyping the case for war, you were a conspiracy
theorist.


The truth is that everything the new wave of Bush critics has to say
was obvious long ago to any commentator who was willing to look at the
facts.


Mr. Bartlett's book is mainly a critique of the Bush administration's
fiscal policy. Well, the administration's pattern of fiscal dishonesty
and irresponsibility was clear right from the start to anyone who
understands budget arithmetic. The chicanery that took place during the
selling of the 2001 tax cut - obviously fraudulent budget
projections, transparently deceptive advertising about who would
benefit and the use of blatant accounting gimmicks to conceal the
plan's true cost - was as bad as anything that followed.


The false selling of the Iraq war was almost as easy to spot. All the
supposed evidence for an Iraqi nuclear program was discredited before
the war - and it was the threat of nukes, not lesser W.M.D., that
stampeded Congress into authorizing Mr. Bush to go to war. The
administration's nonsensical but insistent rhetorical linkage of Iraq
and 9/11 was also a dead giveaway that we were being railroaded into an
unnecessary war.


The point is that pundits who failed to notice the administration's
mendacity a long time ago either weren't doing their homework, or
deliberately turned a blind eye to the evidence.


But as I said, better late than never. Born-again Bush-bashers like Mr.
Bartlett and Mr. Sullivan, however churlish, are intellectually and
morally superior to the Bushist dead-enders who still insist that
Saddam was allied with Al Qaeda, and will soon be claiming that we lost
the war in Iraq because the liberal media stabbed the troops in the
back. And reporters understandably consider it newsworthy that some
conservative voices are now echoing longstanding liberal critiques of
the Bush administration.


It's still fair, however, to ask people like Mr. Bartlett the obvious
question: What took you so long?

*************************

Sullivan in response to Krugman :
Krugman
10 Mar 2006 12:49 pm

With his usual accuracy and fairness, Paul Krugman smears yours truly today. Since he's too important to have his columns available to non-subscribers, I can't link. He has one decent point: yes, I lionized George W. Bush for a while after 9/11, and, in retrospect, my attempt to place trust in him at a time of national peril was a misjudgment. But then, in times of peril, some of us feel that supporting the president, whoever he is, and hoping he gets things right, are not contemptible impulses. I should have been more skeptical. In less dire circumstances, I might have been. But some of us, in the days after 9/11, did not immediately go into partisan mode, put aside some of our other objections (like the fiscal mess and the anti-gay policies), and rallied behind a president at war.

And yes, I criticized many whose knee-jerk response immediately after 9/11 was to blame America, and whose partisanship, like Krugman's, was so intense they had already deemed Bush a failure before he even had a chance. But it is a gross exaggeration to say, as Krugman sweepingly does, that "I used to specialize in denouncing the patriotism and character of anyone who dared to criticize president Bush." Five days after 9/11, in an aside in a long essay, I predicted that a small cadre of decadent leftists in enclaves in coastal universities would instinctively side with America's enemies. They did. Some still do. (Go read the piece to see whether you think the accusations against me are fair.) And yes, I should have been more attuned to the pragmatic arguments of those who opposed the Iraq war for prudential, not partisan, reasons: people like Scowcroft, not Krugman (who would have opposed anything this president did, regardless of its merits). But Krugman's sweeping charge against me is unfair. Long-time readers will know this. And the record is out there.

He is also grossly distorting the historical record in my criticism of the president. I am not a "born-again" Bush-basher, suddenly seeing the light. My criticisms of the Bush fiscal policy began very early and were very strong, although I supported the tax cuts (still do) and my focus was entirely on spending. My worries about war conduct began almost immediately after the Iraq invasion; my opposition to the federal marriage amendment was instant and scathing; my horror at Abu Ghraib and what it revealed was also contemporaneous with the available information, and I have kept the administration to account ever since. I opposed entitlement expansion. I supported a gas tax; and defended the estate tax. And, as Krugman somehow fails to point out, I endorsed John Kerry last time around. To accuse me of silence until now is absurd. To say that he expects no "statements of remorse" is also a little off. Does this count:

"We have learned a tough lesson, and it has been a lot tougher for those tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis and several thousand killed and injured American soldiers than for a few humiliated pundits. The correct response to that is not more spin but a real sense of shame and sorrow that so many have died because of errors made by their superiors, and by writers like me."

Sometimes, you can't win.

But this much is also true: I want to win the war, and we have this president for the next three years. If he does good things, he still deserves our support; and so do the people of Iraq. He has made some constructive changes these past few months in Iraq, and I'm not going to give up hope now. Maybe I should have appreciated that the Bush administration's "mendacity was obvious from the beginning." We can't all be as clairvoyant as Krugman. But I gave them a chance. When America was attacked, I rallied behind them and hoped for the best. If a similar thing happened again, regardless of who was president, Democrat or Republican, I hope I would do exactly the same. My principle was "trust but verify." Maybe I was wrong to trust. But no one can fairly accuse me of not verifying.

Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:41 am

Same sh*t different day. Like a broken record.

Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:46 am

Is it really? It seems to me we're hearing new voices from the right.

At this time when the administration is mucking up everything, it's worth reconsidering other things we believed about this guy.

And there is momentum gaining to "declare victory and go home."

I'm somewhat in the middle on this one so those who want to step up to the plate (not you apparently), please feel free.

Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:28 pm

genesim wrote:Same sh*t different day. Like a broken record.


I don't think so!!

Normally the critizism comes from the "Left" but now even stuanch pro-Bush "Right" supporters are critizising him and his decisions.

Slowly the light shines on the 50million+ dumb-asses that voted for him!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:03 am

50 million "dumbasses".

Unlike alot of you more "educated" individuals, I form my opinion based on observation and not what other people's opinions are.

Just because he said or she said...doesn't make it so.

History has shown that alot of so called conservatives blow with the wind. I don't take too much stock in those opinions.

I support Bush and his decision to go to war. I don't feel the war has been fought badly at all, and the world is a better place without Sadam Hussein in power. Iraq will one day be a superpower in line with Germany and the work that is being done now will be some of the most important in World history.

Hippies aside, I don't know why you guys keep beating this like a dead horse. We are fighting a war and there is nothing the flower children can do or say to change it.

That said, it remains the lowest casuality count of a major invasion EVER. That goes for civilians as well. I suggest some of you should observe rather then being followers and relying on "opinions" to prove your own case. There is nothing wrong with listening, but at the same time one must actually take a hard look at the pollitics behind it. The least popular man isn't necessarily the wrong man.

Though even that has been distorted. Then again, I am preaching to a bunch of flowers that still can't get over the fact that Katrina was a LOCAL event that should have been corrected by the state, before and after.

Complain because the U.S.A. didn't get involved sooner in war...complained because it was too quick. :lol:

You little kids keep high fiving each other. I have learned my lesson.

The troft is over there. The rest is up to you.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:35 am

One of the most telling things for me has been the deteriorating support for the war among the men fighting it.

Bush had been thumping the drum that the fighting men wanted to finish the job.

Although I thought the war has been tragically and probably irretrievably bungled, their support counted for something with me.

Now we learn that more than 70 percent of the troops there say we should get out within a year, and nearly 30 percent want us to leave immediately. Only 23 percent said troops should stay "as long as they are needed."

Perhaps even worse, more than 40 percent say their mission there is hazy to them. That alone proves the Bush administration's failure, as far as I'm concerned

That's it for me.

Bush has told us to trust the guys who are on the ground, fighting the battles. Well, I do. Bring 'em home!

Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:46 am

genesim wrote:That said, it remains the lowest casuality count of a major invasion EVER.



Well pointed out.

Yes, there are LESS American casualties/fatalities and far less civilian casualties in the Iraq War than there was in that stupid useless Vietnam War (a war started and funded and escalated by DEMOCRATS & their Dem. President)

Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:53 am

The Bush supporters are deserting like rats on a sinking ship !

Soon there'll just be Geno !

Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:57 am

Propaganda at its finest. Just keep drinking the Kool Aid, and stay as far away from reality as possible.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:02 am

genesim wrote:Just keep drinking the Kool Aid, and stay as far away from reality as possible.


It's beginning to sound as if you practice what you preach !

Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:09 am

ColinB wrote:
genesim wrote:Just keep drinking the Kool Aid, and stay as far away from reality as possible.


It's beginning to sound as if you practice what you preach !


Yeah, once one starts referring to Fox News, William F. Buckley and the Military Times as left-wing "propaganda," you really have to wonder who's drunk on the Kool Aid.

But as this weekend has shown us, even Milosevic has his tearful supporters, so it's no surprise to me that some dolts are still being duped by Bush.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:18 am

Is this from the Pee Wee Herman "I know you are, but what am I" school?

"All we are saying..is give peace a chance...all we are saying...we live in a FANTASY LAND" :lol: :lol:

When your freedom is taken from you, maybe then you will understand what all the hoopla is about.

Until then, keep the heads firmly planted in the soil.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:24 am

When your freedom is taken from you, maybe then you will understand what all the hoopla is about.



Huh? Are you even trying to make sense?

Are you suggesting some non-existent Sunni army is going to invade the United States and take away my constitutional right to petition the government for a redress of grievances?

What are you talking about?

... Oh, never mind, you'll only dig yourself deeper into the ground.
Last edited by elvissessions on Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:39 am

What rankles I think both the Left and the Right and everyone else is the almost flippant disregard the president has for the responsibilities of the job. From September 11 to the invasion and the reasons for it to the occupation to Katrina to Dubai, the one link is a lack of preparation and research to form a coherent plan. The research leading up to Iraq was a one sided debacle where the administration disregarded anything that conflicted with its original thesis. The occupation of Iraq was allegedly supposed to take millions (not billions of dollars) and be over in a few months according to the administration's early predictions. Katrina received lip service but no plan. The Ports scandal the president found about through the media. This was a man who was willing to use a veto (something he has never used before) to push through a deal that he did not even care enough about to study before hand.

This haphazard way of running the government is becoming more and more evident to more and more people. It's not even a case of party division anymore. People just want a measure of competence in the government. These are life and death decisions this guy is making and he's making them with the degree of thought I put into whether I want turkey or ham for lunch.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:13 pm

So how come this schmuck got elected for a 2nd term ?

Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:56 pm

ColinB wrote:So how come this schmuck got elected for a 2nd term ?


Colin, but did he? :lol:

We have witnessed the Korean war, the Viet Nam war, the first Iraq war, and now this debacle.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:48 pm

ColinB wrote:So how come this schmuck got elected for a 2nd term ?


Colin -
Mainly because some of us didn't find the other candidate appealing. "The devil you know .... "and all that.

For me personally I simply will not vote for the once great democratic party as long as they continue to let the hard left be the driving wheel of the party, and continue to struggle to define themselves.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:37 pm

Well, I think we agree about that, Pete, but (as if we needed a reminder), the "sequel" of GWB has been even worse than expected. I'd almost be willing to hold my nose on some of the liberal excesses as the Bush domestic and foreign policy are a disaster. I really can't imagine Senator Kerry inflaming the Arab world as much as Bush, although I wonder if he'd be any better on port security, etc. Like it or not, he's damaged goods - and not in just Middle East. We could use someone less polarizing. Hillary Clinton, of course, is not that person.

Kerry would have at least been more engaged in the process of governing, as LTB so aptly points out. Not a few Republicans are once bitten and twice shy about their party leader.

Paging through "The American Conservative" lately (normally not a rag I read until recently), I'm taken by how much the right dislikes Bush these days. If we had a parliamentary style of governent, we'd be ripe for a new government already. It's times like this that you realize our four-year term, 2-term maximum, presidency has the trappings of a monarchy.

Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:58 pm

Greg -
Believe me I regret my '04 vote. But I'll tell you this: when '08 comes around I'm going to vote for who I want to be president, even if they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. I'm not going to play the game of casting a vote in the lesser of two evils school of thought.

And if there's no one I want to vote for, then I'll sit it out. Some folks will say that "If you don't vote you have no right to complain." Baloney! My right to free speech isn't predicated on whether or not I cast a vote. Casting a vote for a candidate whom you truly want to win regardless of their chances, or sitting out an election is the only way that Americans are ever going to break the stranglehold of the 2-party system!

I'll get off my soapbox now. :oops:

Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:19 pm

And I regret that my vote for Kerry didn't mean anything in my state due to the electoral college system, which isn't changing anytime soon. :lol:

These guys on Pennsylvania Avenue are exhausted and boy does it show:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... rrer=email

Tue Mar 14, 2006 12:45 am

Hey, Bush, thanks for blowing a hole in my GOP -- but then I always said you were going to, so at least I'm not surprised:

"WASHINGTON - More and more people, even more Republicans, disapprove of President Bush’s performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency."
...
"President Bush's "approval rating" has sunk to a new low according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll released Monday.
The latest results show only 36% of those polled saying they "approve" of the way Bush is handling his job.
...
"Republican Party leaders said the survey explains why GOP lawmakers are rushing to distance themselves from Bush on a range of issues — port security, immigration, spending, warrantless eavesdropping and trade, for example."
...
"Democrats have their biggest advantage since 1992 when poll respondents are asked if they favor Democratic or Republican congressional candidates. The spread: Democrats over Republicans 55% — 39%, a 16-percentage-point gap."

Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:06 am

"Democrats have their biggest advantage since 1992 when poll respondents are asked if they favor Democratic or Republican congressional candidates. The spread: Democrats over Republicans 55% — 39%, a 16-percentage-point gap."


Rest easy, ES: the GOP has, if I read right, changed the process so that there are not nearly as many house seats up for grabs, so changes won't be that earth-shattering, even he keeps up the free-fall. It could set up, however, an interesting '08 race.

Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:04 am

Are you suggesting some non-existent Sunni army is going to invade the United States and take away my consitutional right to petition the goverment for a redress of grievances?


uhh...are you really thinking I am speaking of an invasion???

Nukes baby. That and planes flying into towers. The days are gone for us to sit back and wait. The threat was real, and the threat is now.

The war is just.

Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:16 am

I'd like to see it end.

It's costing the USA: FIVE BILLION DOLLARS A DAY

5B every friggin day.

That sandtrap sweaty armpit of the world isn't worth it.