The Iraq War was one of the most important, and damaging, episodes in the history of U.S. foreign policy. The debate preceding it pitted people who believed Saddam Hussein was malevolent but rational against people who believed he might well nuke the United States. It pitted people who trusted that International Atomic Energy Agency inspections could contain Saddam’s nuclear program against people who thought he would build a nuke under the IAEA’s nose. Most fundamentally, it pitted people who believed that the only way to keep America safe was to force Iraq’s utter capitulation, via regime change, against people who preferred an imperfect accommodation that did not risk war. Sound familiar? . . .As Obama has long said, ending the war was a small thing compared to ending the attitudes that led to the war.
It’s as if there are no relevant precedents (except, perhaps, Munich). Again and again, pundits who championed the invasion of Iraq—people like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer—appear on television advocating the same worldview they advocated in 2002 and 2003, and get to pretend that nothing has happened over the last 15 years to throw that worldview into question. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which championed the invasion of Iraq, can mount a mammoth lobbying campaign against the Iran deal without being asked why, given its track record, anyone should listen to it this time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in 2002 told Congress that “There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is … advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons” and that “If you take out … Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region,” can appear on Sunday show after Sunday show smugly lecturing the host about the state of Iran’s nuclear program and the Iran deal’s implications for the Middle East without having his earlier comments read back to him.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Iraq and Iran
Peter Beinart supported the invasion of Iraq, and regrets it; partly for that reason he now supports the deal with Iran. He wonders why others who supported the war aren't asked about it when they pontificate about Iran: