Thursday, May 29, 2008

Not Bad

Michael Hirsh:

The question I have is: why do we have to hear this from him? What's really extraordinary is how few prominent pundits and columnists have gone even half the length that McClellan has in acknowledging that they got things utterly wrong when they gave their full-throated support to Bush's still-unexplained turn toward Saddam after America's "victory" over the Taliban in Afghanistan. Consider just one example: The New York Times's Thomas L. Friedman, one of the most famous columnists in America and maybe in the world today. Here is Friedman writing on March 13, 2003, seven days before the Iraq invasion: "This war is so unprecedented that it has always been a gut call—and my gut has told me four things. First, this is a war of choice. Saddam Hussein poses no direct threat to us today. But confronting him is a legitimate choice—much more legitimate than knee-jerk liberals and pacifists think. Removing Mr. Hussein—with his obsession to obtain weapons of mass destruction—ending his tyranny and helping to nurture a more progressive Iraq that could spur reform across the Arab-Muslim world are the best long-term responses to bin Ladenism."

Many Iraq hawks have encouraged the pleasant myth that because most of the nation's most prominent pundits, like Friedman, backed Bush's shift to Saddam, everyone was equally fooled and gulled. But this is demonstrably false. Just check the record. Though they were a drowned-out minority, a small number of columnists and reporters—none of them "knee-jerk liberals" or "pacifists"—saw clearly beforehand that the Iraq invasion was a fatal distraction from the real enemy, Al Qaeda, which was known at the time to be a unique product of the anti-Soviet jihad in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here, for example, is Friedman's colleague across the Times op-ed page, Maureen Dowd, writing a day earlier, March 12, 2003: "It still confuses many Americans that, in a world full of vicious slimeballs, we're about to bomb one that didn't attack us on Sept. 11 (like Osama); that isn't intercepting our planes (like North Korea); that isn't financing Al Qaeda (like Saudi Arabia); that isn't home to Osama and his lieutenants (like Pakistan); that isn't a host body for terrorists (like Iran, Lebanon and Syria)." (In case anyone is wondering, I myself was on the record calling the case for war in Iraq a "crock" during a panel discussion at Yale University on Nov. 6, 2002.)

Some dirty fucking hippie bloggers, too.

Speaking of Thomas Friedman, tomorrow is a very exciting day!!