There are different categories of wrongness. People can be wrong for the right reasons. They can be wrong for the wrong reasons. And, worst of all, they can be wrong without conviction because they benefit by being wrong.
Right now on its tenth anniversary we’re being deluged by analyses, apologies, and apologias of just how disastrous invading Iraq was. Some are heartfelt, like Andrew Sullivan’s, to his credit. Most are far from that.
In my view the worst of the worst, worse than the reviled neocons, worse than the ordinary people who just went along, are the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Every Democratic Senator who wasn’t in a safe seat and had presidential aspirations voted in favor of invading Iraq. I don’t believe for a moment their protestations that they were bamboozled by the Bush Administration. They knew what the Bush Administration knew. They made their decisions and I believe that they made them solely in the hope of political gain or the fear of political loss. They are schmucks. Two of the schmucks have since been appointed Secretary of State, presumably their consolation prizes for not becoming president.
Most of the major Left Blogosphere bloggers of the time supported the invasion of Iraq as I documented years ago. Josh Marshall. Kevin Drum. Matthew Yglesias. That brings me around to Ezra Klein:
I supported the Iraq War, and I’m sorry.
I have my excuses, of course. I was a college student, young and dumb. I thought that if U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell and former President Bill Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair all thought it was necessary, then that was because they had intelligence proving as much. I thought there was no way the Bush administration would neglect to plan for the obvious challenges of the aftermath. I turned on the war quickly when I saw how poorly and arrogantly it was being managed.
Youthful folly can be excused. Outspoken youthful folly is hubris and is far more difficult to forgive. He has shown no signs of contrition other than verbal ones. Let me supply a less self-serving explanation for his change of view: his views changed when the positions of Democratic Party leaders did. He was just falling into partisan line. He’s been rewarded for his loyalty. He has learned nothing.
All signs suggest that Americans, generally, have learned nothing:
Opinions about the use of military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons also have not changed much in recent years. Currently, 64% say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action; 25% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, even if it means they may develop nuclear weapons.
War is a dirty, ugly, horrifying, wasteful, vicious matter. There is no glory in it and it certainly should not be waged for gain—whether political, geopolitical, or economic. There is exactly one reason to wage war: because you have no other choice. Clearly, that’s a lesson we have yet to learn.