As Iraq has slowly emerged from years of civil war and open insurgency to stabilize at merely unacceptable levels of violence, a steady stream of war supporters have undertaken to rehabilitate their reputations by interpreting recent events as vindication of that support.
A few choice examples:
– The Washington Times’ Tony Blankley praising the Iraq war exterminating the hundreds of terrorists who “otherwise would have been plying their trade elsewhere,” ignoring the overwhelming evidence showing that the Iraq war itself was the main factor in the radicalization of foreign fighters in Iraq.
– Commentary’s Peter Wehner suggesting that giving Al Qaeda the opportunity to kill and maim thousands of Iraqis so that Iraqis would eventually reject Al Qaeda’s brutality represents a significant U.S. foreign policy victory.
– The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt trying to recast the WMD debate through selective editing of the Senate report on pre-war intelligence.
These people are up to their elbows in blood over the Iraq war, and thus aren’t above resorting to the most transparent dishonesty in order to present the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a success.
Christopher Hitchens certainly belongs to this group, and he recently offered this instant classic of the genre:
I think we should be glad that the luridly sadistic and aggressive Saddam Hussein regime is no longer in power to be the beneficiary of the rise in oil prices and thus able to share its wealth with the terrorists, crooks, and demagogues on its secret payroll.
It takes a very, shall we say, baroque intellectual sensibility to defend the Iraq war on the grounds that it prevented Saddam Hussein from profiting from skyrocketing oil prices that have resulted from the war to remove Saddam Hussein.
Given how many reputations of important, influential people are tied to the Iraq war, we should expect a lot more of this sort of thing. Thus it’s important to hold the line and insist that, while it’s certainly good news that we seem for the moment to have averted an even worse disaster, the fact that Iraq is no longer a killing field free-for-all does not vindicate the decision to invade. Given all that’s occurred in the last five years, the staggering human and financial costs, there is no defensible moral or strategic calculus by which the Iraq war can be judged to have been a policy success.