I’m not going to call Atrios a liar (especially as I’d still like to some day appear on his blogroll), but I don’t really remember any liberals using the “Bush is a fuck-up” argument against the Iraq war, as Atrios is now saying. And maybe he did, I don’t know. But to me, that almost makes the warhawks’ argument better. It allows them to insist that they were doing the right thing, and that it was Bush who blew it for them. And who could blame them for it, they’d say. The Bush marketing campaign really was quite brilliant, and why should they have been as cynical as us? After all, they didn’t hate Bush with a passion bordering on insanity, as we did; so they had no reason to doubt that he wasn’t the second reincarnation of Jesus Christ and George Patton combined.
But that’s not the case. Because I didn’t want Clinton to invade Iraq either. I half-heartedly supported his campaign in Kosovo, but Iraq was always far too risky. And even Bush Senior knew that it wasn’t such a good idea. War is a risky risky thing which should only be fought as a last resort, and we’re damn lucky that things have turned out as well as they have. Hell, we’re lucky that Saddam didn’t have nukes that could have been smuggled out of the country like so many vases.
And that was always my argument against invading; that the unknown risks far outweighed the benefits. We had no good reason to believe Saddam had WMD’s and it made even less sense that he’d actually turn these extremely expensive and hard to obtain weapons over to religious terrorists; just so he could worry about us nuking his country to smithereens. It just wasn’t his style.
Saddam was a brutal dictator who liked being a big fish in a small pond and wasn’t going give us a reason to remind him how small that pond really was. We may have called him a “madman” and he well may have been, but he was certainly a madman who knew how to preserve his power for many decades. I mean, Saddam was torturing his citizens back when Georgie was still a coked-up failure from Midland. Hell, Saddam was torturing his citizens back when Georgie was still a drunken Yankee! And we’re now supposed to believe that he’s going to risk losing that, just so he can help-out some Islamic fundamentalists who hate him?
And that really is exactly what I was saying back then. I don’t know how to find old posts on the Yahoo messageboards, but the argument I just made was exactly what I was saying in 2002-2003. That the risks were too great and that Saddam was unlikely to cause us any harm. If anything, he probably liked the economic sanctions (as most evil dictators probably do) as it allows them better control over their country; and allows them to blame hardships on someone else. And while Saddam may have still planned to conquer other countries in the middle-east, which certainly would have a negative effect on us, he had no reason whatsoever to try to attack us directly. Again, he may have been a madman, but he was certainly a shrewd madman who wanted to stay in power.
And so the whole “Bush screws up everything” argument isn’t even relevant. The invasion of Iraq was a bad idea no matter who was in charge. I don’t care if it was frickin’ Abe Lincoln with God as his co-pilot, it was a bad idea. (Well maybe God would have made it work). And so I see no reason why we should allow the warhawks, liberal or otherwise, off the hook with that defense.
Well no, there is a reason. If, by giving them the “Bush is a fuck-up” defense, it forces them to finally acknowledge what a fuck-up Bush is; then I think we’ve done some good. Just as long as we all understand that, while Bush really is a fuck-up, the whole Iraq invasion plan was really fucked-up.