B-But They Were Wrong About Stuff Too!
I don't usually waste my time reading commentary by smug-ass warmongers, but today's op-ed by Jonathan Chait that appeared in today's Strib forced my hand:
Radar magazine recently published an article bemoaning that pro-war liberal pundits have not been drummed out of the profession for their error. In it, lefty foreign policy guru Jonathan Schell sniffs, "There doesn't seem to be a rush to find the people who were right about Iraq and install them in the mainstream media."
Being right about something is a fairly novel experience for Schell, and he's obviously enjoying it immensely. But before we genuflect to Schell's wisdom, it's worth recalling that his record of prognostication is not exactly perfect. After the 9/11 attacks, Schell railed against attacking the Taliban, which was sheltering Osama bin Laden and much of the Al-Qaida hierarchy. "A military strike against the Taliban or any other regime is full of perils that ... are far greater than the dangers we already face," he warned. For instance, he wrote, "millions of Afghans could starve to death this winter," Pakistan's government could be overthrown, etc.
Shyeah, and we all know how swimmingly our invasion of Afghanistan is going. We might even outlast the Russians. But wait, wait, you have to read the next part, it's goddamn priceless:
Or go back to the last war we fought with Iraq. Schell insisted that we could force Iraq to leave Kuwait with sanctions alone, rather than by using military force. But the years that followed made it clear just how impotent that tool was. Saddam Hussein endured more than a decade of sanctions rather than give up a weapons of mass destruction program that turned out to be nonexistent. If sanctions weren't enough to make him surrender his imaginary weapons, I think we can safely say they wouldn't have been enough to make him surrender a prized, oil-rich conquest.
Yep, because Saddam didn't hand over the weapons he never had, the sanctions didn't work. Nice fucking trainwreck of logic, Chait.
What I don't understand is why support for the first Gulf War is automatically a good thing. Yes, it was done cheaply, quickly and relatively few casualties, it had a real international coalition and it was popular with those watching the fireworks on CNN back home. But in the end, we defended one autocracy from the invasion of another autocracy just after we supported Iraq's failed invasion of a neighboring theocracy.
And today, you can't go to any Arab country (except Kuwait) and justify the Gulf War as anything other than an oil war. It's easy to say in hindsight that the Gulf War is an easy one to support, since any victory has many fathers, but don't discount the fact that there were legitimate reasons for opposing it as well.