Everyone but Dick Cheney and Bill Kristol is now claiming they never thought going to war in Iraq was such a good idea.

Most of them are full of it, of course.  War fever, as usual, swept up almost everybody back in the spring of 2003.

But not me and not the paper I worked for, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Unfortunately, not enough power people in the Bush Administration were reading the enlightened, prescient and principled op-ed pages of the Trib in 2003.

They were too busy studying where to drop their smart bombs. Not to mention  promising 1,000 years of peace and democracy in the Middle East if we invaded Iraq, took out Bad Saddam and his invisible weapons of mass destruction and began teaching the Iraqi tribes how to act Swiss.

We at the Trib, including the publisher Richard Scaife, knew better. We, like Pat Buchanan and a lot of other smart non-interventionist Cassandras who understood the traditional limitations of invading other lands, knew the decision to go to war in Iraq was the stupidest American international move since Vietnam.

A lot of people in DC not named Bush and Cheney have a lot of blood on their hands. They’ll all go free. What’s 5k dead Americans and $1 trillion down the drain?

Iraq was a bipartisan blunder — a predictable tragedy (and an epic war crime)  that many predicted.

How to punish the guilty?

My idea would be that every political dickhead in Washington who had anything to do with promoting or voting for the Iraq war should do the right thing — go to the Capitol steps and  publicly apologize  to the families of the dead and wounded Americans, ask forgiveness from the whole country and quit whatever job they have.

Soon they’ll be holding a war tribunal to round up all the hawks who thought Iraq was such a great idea. They won’t come looking for me. I was against the war 1000 percent.

For the record, this is drawn from just one of the dozen or so columns I wrote pointing out how foolish, immoral and futile the war in Iraq was. It’s from July 0f 2003, when we were still celebrating our great victory and still looking for Saddam and his invisible weapons of mass destruction.

Stuck in Iraq’s mess

Having second thoughts about the war yet?

….

Sure, it’s early yet. Baghdad wasn’t built in a day. Neither was a democracy. But cities and free societies are notoriously hard to build from the top down by the most enlightened of conquering armies, especially when the natives don’t buy into the master plan.

Unfortunately, the price of occupying Iraq will only get higher. A few years from now, sooner if there’s regime change in Washington, we’ll find an excuse to leave or hand Iraq over to the United Nations. Meanwhile, why is anyone surprised things aren’t going well?

Long before the smart-bombing started, the most principled anti-war critics — left, right and libertarian — warned over and over that the hardest part of going to war would be the occupation afterwards.

Everyone knew our preemptive intervention in Iraq was inevitable a year before H-Hour. The Bush administration only did what governments of every ilk and every political party do after they decide to go war — use exaggerations, scare tactics and fibs to make their moral/political case to the people.

No biggie. That’s how governments operate. What was most annoying about our inevitable march to war was that so many conservatives in Congress and the media were so gung-ho about it. They saw war with Iraq not as folly but as a really neat way to transplant democracy, free markets and the rule of law into a strategically vital region that needed all three.

STUPID, RISKY

Many of these conservative war hawks believe devoutly in limited government, or pretend to, and they understand why government programs at home rarely work the way they are intended. When they see Washington declare war on poverty or set out to nationalize health care, they denounce it for what it is – social engineering by Big Dumb Government.

Yet what is mounting a massive expeditionary force and setting out to remake a Muslim penal colony in the image of Switzerland? It’s social engineering of the most ambitious and insane kind.

Trying to graft Western ideas and values onto a culture halfway around the world – by military force – is so stupid, so risky, so costly, so fraught with unknowns, so likely to fail, only a government would try it.

If a Democrat administration had dreamed up such a boondoggle, conservatives would have fought it tirelessly, not cheered it on. Maybe conservatives lost their selective distrust of big government because Iraq was invaded in the name of national security. Maybe it had to do with simple party partisanship or the delusory side-effects of war-making and patriotism.

Whatever it was that made a federal government takeover of Iraq look like such a swell idea to conservatives a year ago, it doesn’t look so smart now. We’re stuck with a big mess. And it’s not un-American to start saying “We told you so.”

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  • Collins White

    Nice article except the concept that there were not WMD’s in Iraq. While there were no functional nuclear weapons, there was plenty of nuclear material to make a “dirty bomb”, and a plethora of chemical and biological weapons found and destroyed in place.