And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper's account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war -- a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats -- gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.
At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says that it "deeply regrets its early support for this war." Does it also deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of "abject pacifism?"
Yeah, great. They're sorry. That means a whole hell of a lot next to thousands of lost lives & at least a trillion dollars that should have gone toward *actual* terror-prevention & domestic programs.
Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" deserve some credit.
Woo-hoo! Like Al Gore himself. And our new Democratic Speaker of the House. And Feingold & Dean. Maybe other right wing publications/pundits will take note & treat with respect these people who were brave enough to voice concerns despite McCarthy-ism revamped accusations of working with the terrorists, emboldening the terrorists, being unAmerican and unpatriotic, etc. Or, more likely, everyone will just blame Bush & ignore the fact that there *were* people who knew their s*&# (like, ahem, the major ethnic breakdown of Iraq) and predicted that this war was an unspeakably grave mistake.
Al Gore, September 2002: "I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century."
Check, & check. Why the hell aren't you president, again?
Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002: "When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could be unlimited."
Wow. Again, right on both counts.
Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: "I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."
In this tiny passage, Dean has managed to pack more information about Iraq's divided nature than Bush knew when he decided to invade. Kind of depressing. Such a simple thing, to do a little research on the country you're attacking. But Bush & Co., not into doing that.
We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war -- or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly -- should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.