The revisionist pro-Iraq war argument that ‘the idea was sound, but the implementation was problematic’ has always bothered me. It assumes that a ‘war of choice’–that is, an unprovoked assault against another nation which does not pose an immediate threat–will work out just fine. So when it doesn’t work out–and it almost never does–it’s not the fault of war supporters, it’s someone else’s. Never mind that wars of choice almost always end in massive blowback, there’s just no conceivable way anyone could have foreseen the outcome….
Glenn Greenwald, responding to Dan Drezner and Megan McArdle, says this far more eloquently (bold original; italics mine):
What I wrote — as clearly as the English language permits — is that people like them who advocate aggressive wars, such as the invasion of Iraq, are responsible for what naturally follows. That’s a principle established by the Nuremberg Trials….
The only thing I said they supported was aggressive war, which is true. I also argued that people who support aggressive wars are responsible for what follows, which is why they’re so blithe about the fact that those things that followed — such as the Government’s war crimes and even things like the suspension of the Fourth Amendment — are receiving so little media attention. Could that be any clearer?
People who are convinced that, deep down, they’re so Good will automatically accuse you of “misrepresenting” their views if you link them to bad things, because how else could they possibly be responsible for bad things other than if you distort what they think? Believing that is fine. Running around petulantly claiming that I said they were pro-torture when I made no such statement isn’t fine. We’re all supposed to agree that Good people can advocate horrendous policies and still be Good — or, more to the point, not responsible for what they cheered on — and if you don’t accept that premise, then it means that you’re being unfair and shrill and must be misrepresenting their views.
If you cheer on optional invasions and aggressive wars, you do so knowing that you’re supporting things that will — at best — lead to mass destruction and the deaths of thousands and thousands of people. Aggressive wars lead to war crimes; it itself, by definition, is a “war crime” by virtue of our own principles and legal framework. I know full well that it’s impolite, overheated and shrill to point all of this out — to suggest that those who advocate such wars, even the good, nice, well-meaning people, bear responsibility for what follows — but that doesn’t make pointing it out a “misrepresentation.
While Greenwald’s right, if U.S. history is any guide, there aren’t going to be that many people who truly fess up to having made a dreadful decision