Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« Drop that Dildo! | Even Worse Than Crying About L... »

Monday, March 6, 2006

What I Got Wrong

Posted by on March 6 at 11:48 AM

So Andrew Sullivan, George Will, William F. Buckley, Francis Fukuyama, and other conservatives are now admitting they were wrong about the Iraq war. As a liberal supporter of the Iraq war (recovering), I can’t help but wonder what took them so long? I posted this on Friday, August 12, 2005, when I was guest blogging on Andrew Sullivan’s website:

GET OUT NOW: Okay, I have a half an hour until my stint here as guest-blogger ends and I turn back into pumpkin. I wish I had more time to flesh this out, but I have to leave for the airport in a half an hour so I’m just going to have to blast through this. Forgive the stream of consciousness, the misspellings, and the rambling nature of this post.

Look, I was for this thing. I went out on limb and backed it. I wanted it to succeed. I still do.

But it’s time to declare victory and get the fuck out. Thanks to the incompetence of this administration, we can no longer avoid the “Q” word. It’s a quagmire. Period. Listening to Marketplace while I made dinner tonight, I learned that attacks on military convoys have gone updoubled or tripled, I didn’t have a penin the last 12 months. How’d that happen? How many billions spent and how many Americans and Iraqis dead and yet things just keep going from bad to worse.

It seems that the more corners we’re told we’ve turned, the more walls we run into. And it just keeps coming back to manpower”just enough troops to lose,” as Andrew says. There were never enough troops on the ground, and since this President never met a fuck-up that he wouldn’t pin a Medal of Freedom on, the same fuck-ups who mismanaged this thing from the start are still grinning at us on TV.

Does anyone in the White House know what the fuck they’re doing? One day it’s the war on terror, the next day it’s got a new name, then it’s back to the war on terror. We’re going to set a date to start reducing troop levelsno, wait, we’re not. Killing Saddam’s sons will change things for the better, no wait. Capturing Saddam will take the wind out of the sails of the insurgency. Now that everyone in Iraq has a purple finger, the insurgents are going to slink away. We clear a town of insurgents, but we don’t have the manpower to hold it, so we pull the troops out andsurprisethe insurgents take the town back. “Dead enders,” “last throes,” “losing stream.”

On and on it goes, and the news doesn’t change, or get any better. If it needs a new name perhaps we should call it the Groundhog’s Day War. Does anyone believe that the Iraqi Constitutioncoming on Mondayis going to change a damn thing?

George Bush is good at one thing and one thing only: winning elections and coasting along. Forget the maybe/maybe not criminal outing of a CIA agentthe prosecution of this war is this administration’s signature crime. My friends who admonish me for not seeing this coming the run-up to the war are right, it pains me to admit. I have no longer have any faithnone whateverin Bush, Rummy, Condi, Dick, or the rest of the jackasses running this show. And like all liberals who supported this thing, I’m angier about George Bush’s handling of this war than any liberal who opposed it. Liberal hawks wanted to win this more desperately than anyone else. But it’s time to bring down the curtainwhy? Not because war I hate Bush so much that I want to see my country lose this warI love my countryand not because I don’t care about the Iraqi people. I’m one of those liberals who backed the war for humanitarian reasons.

No, we should get out because, with the Bushies running the show for the next three years, we’re simply not going to win. It’s just go to drag on and on. This war, as I see it now, is either going to be nasty, brutal and short or nasty, brutal and long. I prefer nastry, brutal and short, if only because it will mean fewer Americans will die. And fewer Iraqis too, I suspect.

To paraphrase a war hero: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for an incompetent ?

CommentsRSS icon

dan savage: duped by a chimp.

maybe you could write another post about how it feels to be personally complicit in the slaughter and torture of thousands of innocent people by supporting what will come to be seen as the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of western civilization.

With a minimum of research you could have figured out from the start that this was a crazy venture with many different potentially catsrophic consequences no matter who was running the show.

It's time to stop appologizing and just accept that you can never never atone for your error in this case.

I beleive you are too smart not to have known better. You'll be writing and complaining about politics and policy matters 20 years from now that are driven by the terrible fall out for our country of this fantasy escapade, let alone for the rest of the world. Have you notice there is a "rest of the world" that exists in the material plane yet?

However, on everything else you are wonderful. Keep up the good work!

Yeah like there was something you could do about it if you disagreed anyway. Philosophically complicit at most.

In the history of Western Civilization? Uh, I can think of two different Marches on Moscow that were substantially more disastrous than the Iraq War -- Napoleon's and Hitler's. The Soviet Union's attack on Afghanistan. Neville Chamberlain. The attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur 1973. There are lots of candidates.

Even in US history, the impact of the Vietnam War was pretty huge. Certainly there were many, many more deaths. However, in this case, I think more damage has been done by our incompetence in Iraq, in terms of affecting our influence on the world and the direct effect of emboldening our enemies. It's a major embarrassment.

But it's not Hitler.

Though I'm not one to shy away from criticizing Dan, I think this particular line of Dan bashing trivializes pre-war Iraq. It was a quagmire then, and it's immeasurably worse now.

Liberal and conservative war supporters were wrong. I'm very glad many of them are recognizing their errors now, and perhaps their own consciences will wrestle with blame and accountability.

The U.S. responsibility for fucking up Iraq started in the years 1958-1963. By the time we ensured the Ba'th party's rise to power, Dan was a zygote.

savage could be considered complicit regardless of whether there were any valid means of preventing the war.

com·plic·it ( P ) Pronunciation Key (km-plst)
Associated with or participating in a questionable act or a crime; having complicity

i always figured savage's position was more a result of the stranger's faux-transgressive editorial stance than any profound understanding of foreign policy. that, and he didn't want to be on the side of the dirty hippies.

I was opposed to this war from the start, and it's gratifying to have been right about this, perhaps more "right" than i really knew at the time, but I can't help but imagine if those who are so quick to slam Dan et al for admitting their error in judgement would be as quick to retract their view if we had marched into Bagdad to adoring crowds without firing a shot? The administration and its cronies' stubborn insistance that they were never wrong is literally costing lives every day. i can't justify critisizing Bush and Co. for not admitting their mistakes and changing course, then turn around and slam those brave enough to admit they were wrong.
Dan, you were wrong wrong wrong! shame on you, but... you know that and you clearly don't need to be reminded. I hope the next time i am wrong i can own up to it gracefully and not stubbornly keep fighting battles, long after the war was lost.

Who was it that said "A stubborn consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."?

wait... "A FOOLISH consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Emerson, patron saint of dirty hippies.

Longball is correct.

There's nothing wrong with realizing one was wrong. "I told you so" really does help nothing.

I say this as someone who pretty much agreed with Dan's view on the matter *given what I knew at the time*. I stress these last few words, because now that I've seen more of this legacy (if that's too kind of a word to use, possibly) of the GWB admininstration.

Those of you who "saw this coming" please exhibit your notarized predictions predating March 2003.

To hell with this--I still want him to apologize for causing the Monorail project. :(

props for the belated penance. but:

"it’s time to declare victory and get the fuck out."

declare victory???

oh and when you mean "get the fuck out" do you mean scrap all military bases? cause that's not what most "liberals" mean. at least not most democrats in the federal government.

it's not gonna happen. i agree with chalmers johnson that we've crossed the rubicon with regard to our military commitments without so much as a debate. the chances of real withdrawl, rather than the kind of phony withdrawl israel has pioneered in the west bank, is near zero. but, while you're advocating for withdrawl, you might as well start talking about getting out of a lot of countries the us has no business in. worthy cause. almost hopeless. but worthy.

Fnarf, your implication about Neville Chamberlain, I gather, is a reference to France & Britain's allowing Germany to remilitarize, and to take over Czechoslovakia (Austria doesn't count because they were happy to join in Hitler's "New Germany.") This is a bit of 'common wisdom' that is completely wrong.

The view at the time among the political intellegesia (& you as well, if you were alive in the 30s) is that the greatest threat to world peace was Josef Stalin. Everyone knew (& were correct) that he was a blood thirsty sadist. He had stated over & over again that his goal was a world-wide Communist Revolution. It was in the interests of both the UK & France to have an armed, strong Germany between them & the Soviet Union. And Hitler was obviously an enemy of Communism.

Fascism is much more closely aligned ideologically w/ Capitalism than to Communism. Hitler may have been crazy, from the British & French viewpoint, but he's one of ours. The US doesn't count because they were rabidly isolationist.

There were very few people who could have predicted that it would be Germany that would have started WWII. That's why the Western industrialists poured in investment money (including GE, Henry Ford & Dubya's grandpa) into Hitler's Germany & not into the USSR (Lenin had confiscated all the banker's assests in Russia, and refused to return them, another reason why the west has so adamently hated the USSR.)

When Hitler took over Czechoslovakia in '38, that was the first real wake-up call. But what would that have meant if Britain & France had declared war then? WWII would have started a year earlier, that's all. The damage had already been done.

I don't like the attitude that the west was complacent during the rise of Hitler. They weren't complacent at all: they were very, very effective in halting the spread of the Soviet Revolution. Good for them! If anything, they were actively _complicit_ in Hitler's Germany, whose rise would have been impossible w/o ready cash from Britain, France & America.

Just a side-note: There was plenty of evidence that Hussein was not a threat to _anyone_. His military was still way below the pre-invasion of Kuwait levels. Basic chemistry says that the sarin gas he used in the early 80's was no longer good. His nuclear capabilities were based on poor forgeries. The 'intelligence we had at the time' line should read 'the propaganda we had at the time.' The US media was entirely complicit in repeating w/o arguement the statements that came from the White House about Hussein. Those statements were either exaggerations or complete lies, and the information to refute them was available at the time. The Media ignored those facts, and repeated the lies of the White House. In so doing, the US media (Mr. Savage included) was acting as an arm of the Neo-Con's policy in taking over the Iraqi oil fields by any means neccesary. News reporters were acting as combatants, using their own powers to further aggression. Is it any wonder, then, that more reporters have been killed in Iraq than in WWII, the Korean War & Vietnam combined?


The problem is that the Stranger readers place a premium on cool over knowledge when it comes to understanding anything outside of Seattle. This is especially true when it comes to the world overseas. If you want to find out about the real world, get your nose out of the New York Times and track down some real information!

I'm assuming Dan has learned a lot about himself and how to seek out information about things that matter before he starts spouting. I just think he can stop appologizing now. Its not making it better.

And you "knowing what I knew then" willfully ignorant need to get off your ass and learn about the world from another perspective besides the Post Intelligencer and the New York Times.

blah blah blah i'm so fucking smart because i figured out we shouldn't be in this war a whole six and a half months ago.


Glad you feel the need to announce, "I told you so."
Thanks for bringing zero original thought to the table.

please, forgive us "I told you so"-ers for making you feel bad.
i'll just try to give you an idea of what it feels like:

  • you make it a point of standing vigil with signs on the streets on a regular basis
  • you try to organize citizen's groups to take action
  • you march in every peace rally you hear of
  • you write letters to papers
  • you try to spread the word to everyone you know, with what little "real" information there is to counteract government propaganda
  • in short, you try to exercise every single one of your legal rights as a citizen to raise public awareness, and influence policy

and all you get is:

  • scorn
  • ridicule
  • being treated by the media as an insignificant radical minority
  • war, and crimes committed in your name

I know, it's a pity party, but sometimes it all feels so hopeless... in comparison, the pleasure of knowing you were right and being able to say "I told you so" does absolutely nothing to alleviate the sorrow of failure.

Ward Churchill is right - we are still alive, so obviously we still haven't earned the right to exempt ourselves from complicity.

Just a few comments re this thread.....Who really cares what the editor of the stranger was for or against way back when? I mean - that isnt where the failure comes in...its a free country after all....if anything is worth exploring I think its the notion of what constitutes a failure or success in this case (Iraq) and if that is even the right question...

If you ask me, I would say the real question is much simpler - its not about whether we are winning or losing, or whether the Iraqi people welcomed us with open arms or rpg-7's....

the question is - at the time - should we have waged war against Iraq? You can 'frame' it in a lot of different ways ie oh we arent waging war - we are doing a regime change....for another one of our CIA installed assets that went bad like Noriega.....who was about to start trading oil in euros and not Iran is about to......or, you can frame it like we aren't attacking Iraq with our military we are bringing democracy to the middle east......etc etc etc....but the fact remains and always will - what we did - what we were considering doing - and then did - was attack Iraq, wage war on Iraq....allthe framing is about why....or for what reason, but those aren't the same thing....

it's the same sort of misguidedness that lets us get to the point where we all feel falsley empowered as if we too are 'informed' 'expert' talking head sunday morning NFL analyst pundits.....but this is and was about our armed forces waging war on another country....

the why is another matter entirely.....if any of us wanted or wants this....whether it succeeds or fails, it means we need to check our heads and really consider more deeply but also more simply about just what it means or requires of us to be americans....and under what conditions we as a nation should wage war....

also - for the record I would add that it is high time we as comfortable people in this nice bubble of a place actually consider exactly what type of 'war' this actually is.....because the truth is its much more akin to a big strong kid beating up on another kid with no real fear of getting hurt and making it seem like its a fight....its really not its just an easy and relatively danger free adventure.....what they might have called a short jolly war in times gone by.....

so much of our lostness as a country - and we are - is from this sort of unthinking 'taking sides' many of us really decide for ourselves anymore rather than simply go along with our 'side", liberal, blue, gay, smoker, polygamist etc etc etc - the list is and always will be endless....all of this is the simplest test - in America - divided we Fall....united we then the philisophical excercise becomes - ok so it seems like I want to suuport this issue or I care about such and such - but I seem to have no choice - I must take sides....very well - so be it - but, the real question then becomes how do I 'take' the side of all of us?.....I believe in gay marriage but it seems like I only have two choices....etc etc etc....I say dig deeper.......

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).