Prominent conservatives and Republicans in Congress have been attacking RNC chair Michael Steele and calling for his ouster after Steele’s recent comments that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, conservative Pat Buchanan complained about the right’s reaction. “What bothers me is the effort here I think to force a position on the Republican Party before they’ve gone through their primary process,” Buchanan said, and addressed former Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor about the foolish right-wing charge to wage war in Iraq:
BUCHANAN: What I’m saying is, don’t start purging a guy because he said something different. [...] You guys were wrong on Iraq and you got us into that. … You had all that intel on WMD and got us into an unnecessary war.
Time’s Mark Halperin came to Senor’s defense, asking, “Why aren’t you asking him if we’re safer with Saddam Hussein gone?” “Yeah, thank you, Mark,” Senor said, then asking Buchanan, “Would we have been safer if Saddam Hussein were in power?” Surprisingly, when Buchanan offered a suggestion as to why the U.S. is perhaps not safer, Senor called his argument “legitimate”:
BUCHANAN: We would be safer if we had those 4,000 guys back alive and the 35,000 wounded weren’t wounded.
SENOR: That is a real discussion and a very legitimate point and we should have it.
Without much evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, war supporters now claim that the entire adventure — hundreds of billions spent, tens of thousands killed or wounded, and distracted resources from Afghanistan — was worth it just to have Saddam Hussein out of power. Indeed, a report from CAP’s Matt Duss, Peter Juul, and Brian Katulis recently noted the flaw in this argument:
[T]he end of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime represents a considerable global good, and a nascent democratic Iraqi republic allied with the United States could potentially yield benefits in the future.
But when weighing those possible benefits against the costs of the Iraq intervention, there is simply no conceivable calculus by which Operation Iraqi Freedom can be judged to have been a successful or worthwhile policy. The war was intended to show the extent of America’s power. It succeeded only in showing its limits.
It’s nice to see Senor finally recognize that perhaps that the war he fervently supported may not have made the U.S. safer.