John B. Judis recalls what it was like to oppose the Iraq war. He makes this observation at the end:
My own experience after Powell’s speech bears out the tremendous power that an administration, bent on deception, can have over public opinion, especially when it comes to foreign policy. And when the dissenters in the CIA, military, and State Department are silenced, the public—not to mention, journalists—has little recourse in deciding whether to support what the administration wants to do. Those months before the Iraq war testify to the importance of letting the public have full access to information before making decisions about war and peace. And that lesson should be heeded before we rush into still another war in the Middle East.Noah Millman agrees with Judis for the most part but thinks he underestimates the dissenting voices.
But the dissenters weren’t “silenced” so much as ignored – and not only by the Administration. They were ignored when they testified before Congress. They were ignored by the press. They were ignored by ordinary people – like myself – in personal conversation. I remember vividly having an argument with an intelligent, non-ideological friend who opposed the war simply because he saw that the case for it was absurdly threadbare. When I couldn’t actually refute his arguments, I changed them in my own mind to easier-to-defeat straw men, the better to preserve my already-settled opinion. Yes, we were deceived about any number of matters – but we, official Washingtonians and ignorant college students, wanted to be deceived. Because we wanted to go to war.Daniel Larison writes about the Unlearned Lessons of the Iraq War. One of the lessons that hasn't been learned is that those who want war will engage in fear mongering and threat inflation.
Following the end of the Cold War, American hawks have felt compelled to build up every minor threat as a new global menace to replace the vanished Soviet Union. That has inevitably required grossly exaggerating the danger to the U.S. and the rest of the world from third- or fourth-tier states. The fear-mongering about Hussein’s Iraq in 2002-03 was one of the more extreme and absurd examples of this since there were few states in the world that posed less of a threat to America than a broken-down, disarmed, impoverished, and internationally isolated dictatorship. The idea that the U.S. was being “forced” to go to war was preposterous at the time, and in hindsight it appears even more so.We are seeing something similar now from those who want to attack Iran and get us involved in Syria.
Over at The Moderate Voice Dorian De Wind discusses the numbers of the Iraq war.
Daniel McCarthy thinks that Iraq will become The GOP's Vietnam:
The Republican Party may not be able to escape its McGovern phase, even if Democrats screw up (as they will) and we briefly get a Republican Carter. The party and the ideology soaked into it have lost their reputation for competence, and they’ve lost the emotional resonances that come with being the party of America: victory, prosperity, normality. Instead the resonances that come from the War on Terror are of a party and an era marked by resentment, recession, and insecurity. Although the party still sees Ronald Reagan when it looks in the mirror, what the rest of the country sees is George W. Bush—much as post-Vietnam Democrats continued to think of themselves as the party of Franklin Roosevelt when in the minds of most Americans they had become the party of Johnson and McGovern.
Until the Republican Party can come to grips with its failure, the Democrats will be the party Americans trust to govern.