I was discussing Iraq with a conservative friend last night, whose main argument seemed to be that it took 10 years for Germany to recover after World War II (wasn't that a four-year war? Didn't Iraq last four weeks?) and you shouldn't make any conclusions about the state of affairs there for another 8 years. That's going to save a lot of editorial space! Moratorium on ANY comments about Iraq, good or bad, until 2013, everybody!
He also parried allegations of official deception by the Bush Administration by simply musing that we got rid of Saddam and it doesn't matter why it happened but it's over and isn't the world a better place and don't you want everyone to be free? The problem with this kind of moral relativism, this kind of "by any means necessary" tactic that just looks at results (and through rose-colored glasses, I might add, considering that Iraq is currently a McDonaldLand Play Park for terrorists) and not what you had to do to get there adds up to nothing so much as the death of the American soul.
Am I putting too fine a point on it? Well, we now have documented proof
that the war in Iraq was a fait accompli
a full year before the invasion, that "the intelligence was being fixed around the policy" and that the conclusions were made before searching for justification. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
circulated a letter to the President asking for answers about this revelation, signed by 88 members of Congress. This was the money quote:We have of course known for some time that subsequent to the invasion there have been a variety of varying reasons proffered to justify the invasion, particularly since the time it became evident that weapons of mass destruction would not be found. This leaked document - essentially acknowledged by the Blair government - is the first confirmation that the rationales were shifting well before the invasion as well.
We don't go to war based on misleading the public in America. Well actually, we do, and we have for a while. I guess I mean to say that we shouldn't, and those on the right who whine "Shut up, it's over, give it up" provide aid and comfort to the death of truth. They do not honor our soldiers by sending them into combat for the wrong reasons. They weaken us globally by making America untrustworthy. This is as big a story as the uncovering of phoniness in the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, and yet it has gotten almost no play in the US media. The New York Times put it on A9 in a piece largely about how this affected Tony Blair's re-election chances (answer: it did, but he won anyway).
It seems to me that this is why blogs exist: to shine a light on those things that would otherwise fly down the memory hole in this age of celebrity show trials and runaway brides. For example, how many of us would have heard about this story
about a North Carolina church EXCOMMUNICATING all of its Democratic members if it weren't for blogs? That went from a story on Democratic Underground to a local news outlet in North Carolina to a diary on Daily Kos to tonight on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Blogs on both sides fill an important role in bubbling these things to the surface.
Many of what I like to call "conservative cowards," these people that swear up and down that they're "centrists," that refuse to be labeled as a Republican, as if it's shameful, but still have no problem voting for them and espousing their views, would rather focus on results (or their version of results, which I like to call "fantasyland"). But here on planet Earth, causes matter just as much as effects, and you are responsible for your actions no matter how they end up. Deciding to go to war and then cherry-picking intelligence to convince the public is not how the game should be played, as a matter of principle. That's the thing: for all the talk about Democrats not having any, it really is the Republicans who are bereft when it comes to principles. They can talk about spreading freedom and democracy and then decide selectively which countries deserve such a thing. They can talk about holding Saddam accountable and then let themselves off the hook for their own war atrocities. They can talk about imminent threats and the need to go to war when the policy was cemented a full year in advance. They can scare citizens about intelligence reports without caring whether or not they were right.
In short, they have no principles, no scruples, no shame.