James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Liberal Hawks Who Betrayed Bush

While hanging out at Reason's election blog, I found this excellent analysis from Tim Cavanaugh. He writes:

In the event, of course, Rumsfeld's "inadequate" force was sufficient to conquer Iraq in three weeks, even as Saddam Hussein's military put up an uncharacteristically stiff fight. For the liberal hawks, this victory shrinks to insignificance compared to the postwar mismanagement. I am inclined to agree that the occupation period has been grim, but I didn't think invading Iraq was a good idea in the first place. People who supported the invasion, but believed they could bring along a kit bag full of caveats, codicils, and lawyerese about how the war should be conducted, have no such deniability.

Since Iraq hawks are fond of citing analogies from World War II, let me join in the fun. American Marines were slaughtered at Tarawa because the pre-invasion bombardment of the island was woefully deficient. Hundreds of American paratroopers were killed by American anti-aircraft fire during landings in Italy—for that matter the entire campaign up the Italian boot was an obvious waste of time, resources, and lives that prevented the western Allies from getting seriously into the war until the middle of 1944. (If anybody deserved impeachment, it was Winston Churchill, whose imperial obsession with the Mediterranean "underbelly" led to disasters in both world wars.) In late 1944, Allied commanders failed to anticipate that the Germans would attack through Belgium despite their having done so in 1914 and 1940. Abuse and murder of prisoners, targeting of civilians, and indiscriminate bombing all were common. On any given week, World War II offered more fuckups and catastrophes than anything that has been seen in postwar Iraq. Anybody who seriously believes Operation Iraqi Freedom is a worthy national effort must explain Roosevelt's incompetence before denouncing Bush's.

More than that, the liberal hawks must consider the very real possibility that what is happening today in Iraq is not an unforeseeable disaster but the best outcome any reasonable person could have expected. When you say yes to war, the only certainty is that you're saying yes to rape, murder, theft, destruction, starvation, torture, madness and every other calamity flesh is heir to. Fewer than 2,000 dead, cooperation from some of the conquered country's most respected figures, and the dim prospect of elections are not the natural consequences of any war: They can only be regarded as freebies.

So if the liberal hawks honestly thought the war could be conducted without brutality, they were merely naïve. If, however, they are not so much disappointed in the war as tired of Bush, they are something worse. I'm not going to prescribe how anybody should vote, but are there any issues of greater moment than the invasion of Iraq? What is the case for turning out a president who delivered something of such importance to people who say they wanted it? That Bush supported the Federal Marriage Amendment? That No Child Left Behind is underfunded? That Michael Powell has been too rough on Howard Stern? Are these the same people who spent the last three years reminding me that there's a war on?

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