Via Julian Sanchez, a great Brian Doherty column making the point that historical memory can play tricks on people and Iraq may someday come to be viewed as a success. After all, internecine violence in Iraq won’t continue forever and since most ethnically mixed neighborhoods have already been cleansed, it’s at least plausible that the worst is behind us. If we keep over 130,000 troops there for another eighteen months, and then tens of thousands of troops for years after that, the situation could well become peaceful and the whole sorry enterprise could be branded a success.
Doherty writes that “especially if the Democrats go, as seems likely, with their most widely hated candidate, Hillary Clinton, they shouldn’t count on disgust with Bush’s Iraq policy to shoo them in.” I don’t think that’s the right Hillary-related thing to say. Rather, if the Democrats nominate an unapologetic war-supporter, and then she wins, and the war in some sense winds down during her term, then this makes it very likely that the Official Story of Iraq will be that the war, despite some problems, was ultimately successful. Conversely, if the Democrats nominate a candidate who disavows the war, and that candidate wins, the Official Story will deem the war a failure. History is written by the victors even a democracy — a Clinton presidency will boost the “liberal hawk” narrative about the war, an Obama or Edwards presidency will boost the dove narrative, and a Republican presidency will boost the Bushist narrative.