Surprise! The conservative Washington Post has published an opinion piece on the Iraq debacle that is really good -- in fact, it's downright spectacular
. Author Paul Waldman critiques the mainstream media's reliance on the same Republicans who compiled such a sorry record of lies and bad predictions in the 2002-2003 period.
They’re the ones who swore that Saddam was in cahoots with Al Qaeda, that he had a terrifying arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, that the war would be quick, easy and cheap, that since Iraq was a largely secular country we wouldn’t have to worry about sectarian conflict, and that democracy would spread throughout the region in short order, bringing peace and prosperity along with it.
In recent days, cable teevee has repeatedly turned to John McCain. Why him?
For context, here’s a nice roundup of some of the things McCain said when he was pushing to invade Iraq in the first place. When asked if Iraqis were going to greet us as liberators, he answered, “Absolutely.” He said, “Post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is going to be paid for by the Iraqis” with their oil wealth (the war ended up costing the American taxpayer upwards of $2 trillion). And my favorite: “There is not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias, so I think they can probably get along.”
What's next? Will TV newsfolk ask O.J. Simpson for his advice on how to insure a successful marriage? Will they turn to Cap'n Joe Hazelwood for a lecture on seamanship? Will they ask Joe Schumacher for his ideas on how to make a really good Batman movie?
Historians will have a hard time explaining the tsunami of idiocy that enveloped our political discourse in the 2002-2003 period. The man who made the decision to invade Iraq, George W. Bush,
did not even know until 2003 that a Sunni/Shiite division existed. Consider the implications. At the time of the Iranian revolution in 1979 -- and again during the hostage crisis -- the media repeatedly explained the difference between Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims. In order to maintain his ignorance, Bush must have avoided all newspapers and news broadcasts during that period. Even after 9/11
, Dubya felt no compulsion to read up on Muslim history.
Don't be surprised if the teevee folk seek Bush's views on the current Iraq crisis.
On the other hand:
Let's not forget that some progressives have also said foolish things about Iraq. Here's a Democratic Underground piece from 2005
There has never been a "Sunni-Shia divide", nor a Sunni-Shia war. And the meme that the Sunni are trying to incite a civil war between Sunni & Shia is ridiculous on several fronts.
One of the experts cited in this piece is Juan Cole -- who, as it turns out, did not actually deny a Sunni-Shia divide
He did, however, cite a poll which demonstrated that the Iraqis (even the ones who supported the invasion) opposed the continuing US occupation. Sunni and Shia were united, then -- united against us
If the Iraqis were sick of the occupation, so were the American people. If I may quote one of my own 2007 posts
In fact, a healthy 41 percent of Americans want troops to remain in Iraq until the situation has stabilized, and an even healthier 54% want the troops home ASAP. (Since people lie to themselves all the time, you can bet that, if American troops leave and bloody chaos results, a large chunk of that 54% will pretend they never thought that way.)
It took a while, but the day of bloody chaos has come. Many pundits are now telling us that we left Iraq too soon, or that we should never have left. In other words, they're telling us that politicians should ignore popular will.