Monday, March 13, 2006

Post Facto Arguments

Andrew Sullivan does a good job today of reminding anti-war advocates that for all of their smugness over the lack of WMD's, precious few made the arguments before we went to war that those weapons were not there. In other words, many who opposed the war and now take a "see -- we told you so!" approach in fact did no such thing -- they opposed war, to be sure, but not based on what we now know.

There is, however, a flip side to all of this that nails those who supported the war as well: In the wake of coming up empty on WMD's, many supporters of the war changed their own justifications for going in to Iraq. Where once Saddam's clear and present danger was reason enough -- and those who denied that such a danger existed were labelled appeasers or worse -- suddenly emerged a semi-cogent argument based on human rights that few made and even fewer emphasized in the build-up to the war three years ago. In other words, if the anti-war crowd never argued against the existence of WMD's that provides the foundation for their sanctimony, neither did the pro-war types stand on human rights to anywhere near the degree that they now claim.

My own stance was largely ambivalent, but I did make a liberal case for war. I was not gung-ho, I was skeptical of the "we have to go right now" crowd, but stood equally critical of those who were ardently opposed. I did emphasize human rights and also acknowledged that Saddam more than likely had WMD's. Despite this last belief, on the whole my stance seems reasonably prescient in the telling. Last year I posted the text of a speech I gave in Minnesota in the buildup to the war on Rebunk and I think it warrants consideration again now as we hit the three-year mark. As with most cases of disagreement in today's "I can shout loudest" approach to conflict, the loudest voices were wrong on both sides. As for the case today, the shrillest voices from right and left continue to misassess the situation in Iraq. It is not the disaster that the war's opponents claim, and it sure is not the success that proponents would like to argue that it is. I find myself still ambivalent, happy Saddam is gone, saddened by the incompetence of our leaders in waging war, pursuing peace, and rebuilding what we helped break.

No comments: