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August 08, 2007

A Small Point Re: Iraq

Let me make a brief return from my hiatus to comment on Wells's comment on Michael Ignatieff on Iraq.

I certainly agree with Wells as far as it goes, and I share his disdain (my word) for Iggy's mea culpa - for many of the same reasons, if also for some different ones.

But, at the risk of being tiresome, I must point out the possibility that Iggy's mistake was not, in fact, his initial support for the war, but rather his post-facto repudiation.

After all, as I've argued here before, there were a number of legitimate reasons to support the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. (Whether the same was true "two months before 9/11" is more debatable, but - as apparently the last remaining liberal internationalist - I can think of one, being the ouster of an obvious tyrant.) And, as I've also argued, it was not obvious or inevitable in the spring of 2003 that the occupation of Iraq would be mishandled in the way that it was.

In fact, as a side note, consider that the Brits - who made Ignatieff's "mistake," though on a much grander scale - were quite successful quite quickly in pacifying their designated region of Iraq. Why, exactly, is it now assumed that a Canadian army in Iraq would face the same strategic difficulties as the American presence, rather than the relative successes of the Brits? Why indeed, given our quite remarkable and under-appreciated successes in unconquerable Afghanistan?

It's possible, in fact, that the long list of folks Wells cites as supporting the war in 2003 - the Clintons, Mulroney, Harper, Pratt, Clark, Martin's people, as well as (two years earlier) Will, Kissinger, Buckley, Brezienski, Giscard d'Estaing - it's possible, I say, that all these folks were just plain wrong. (I'm not being facetious; it's a real possibility.) But isn't it equally possible that theirs was an eminently reasonable position - as reasonable as was Chretien's, assuming Chretien's was indeed one of prescient foresight and not anti-American and illiberal politicking?

Look, we can all agree to roll our eyes at Ignatieff. We can all agree that his mea culpa smacks of hypocrisy. My point is that perhaps the hypocrisy was not in supporting the war in the first place; perhaps the hypocrisy came in the recanting.

POST SCRIPT: Wells again encourages his press gallery colleagues to pin down Harper on his Iraq war support. So I have to ask again: isn't Wells a member of the press gallery? I understand that he's in France, and I understand that PMO doesn't respond to inquiries - at least not from members of the press. But surely Wells has had the opportunity to ask the question at some point since it became a good one?

Posted by David Mader at 08:04 AM | (0) | Back to Main