As the rhetoric gets louder and louder, with less and less connection to reality, I feel a responsibility to say – I was wrong to support the Bush administration in invading Iraq. It seems clear to me that the President was willing to claim whatever was necessary to justify our invasion, willfully misinterpreting (or flat-out fabricating) evidence to do so. If the President was a Democrat (or the Congress was), I have no doubt he would be impeached by now because of his lies. I am even more disappointed that the man who made the case for me, British PM Tony Blair, went along with the charade.
Yes, I write now with the benefit of hindsight, and I think there are benefits to the whole world, not just Iraqis, to having Saddam Hussein removed from power. But we have reaped a whirlwind by invading Iraq, and I feel that the disaster we have created far outweighs those benefits. We completely squandered whatever goodwill we had following September 11, not just in the Middle East, but in the United Nations and among our allies in NATO. We have turned the small part of the Islamic World that didn’t hate us already into fresh recruiting territory for Al Qaeda. We have not found the WMD that Bush and Blair promised us would be there.
Worst of all, hundreds of our troops, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent Iraqis, have died as a result of our “intervention.” If I thought they were dying for a greater purpose, it would be different. But I don’t see a New Iraq rising from the ashes. The problem, I fear, is only getting worse. I am firmly convinced that the instant our troops are out of Iraq, there will be a Kurdish declaration of independence, followed swiftly by a Turkish invasion, and a Sunni-Shi’a civil war (which will probably lead to Iranian and Syrian invasions). We have de-stabilized the entire region, and I doubt our ability to set it right. Our two real successes in nation-building, West Germany and South Korea, are more than offset by our failures in Cuba, Panama, Haiti, Israel, Vietnam, and our imminent failure in Afghanistan, where we have all but abandoned the new government, concentrating almost exclusively on finding Osama bin Laden. Rebuilding West Germany and South Korea took huge investments of capital and military presence. We are not serious about rebuilding Afghanistan or Iraq – we certainly aren’t rolling out a Marshall Plan in either country. It’s indicative of the administration’s short-term thinking; if we just get rid of the chief bad guys – bin Laden, the Taliban, Hussein – everything else will take care of itself. Never mind the terrorist networks, the ethnic conflict, the political complexities of rebuilding nations – let’s just get the bad guys. It has to stop.
I reservedly supported the invasion, based on the “evidence” that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling WMD. Now that there appears to be no evidence whatsoever for the charges, I have adopted a new creed for this election – “Regime Change Begins at Home.”
We cannot achieve total victory in the “War on Terrorism” without the goodwill, support, and legitimate reform of every government in the world. No one can seriously believe any longer that Islamic terrorists want to destroy us because we have the right to vote and our women don’t cover their heads. When we unilaterally declare our right to pre-emptively topple governments based on the flimsiest of reasons (a Roosevelt Doctrine for the whole world), we make it impossible to gain friends in the Middle East. So long as we continue to make it easy for terrorists to demonize us for our clumsy, heavy-handed, our-interests-above-all-others foreign policy, we continue to swell their ranks. We desperately need cooler heads in the White House, and soon.