Friday, May 06, 2005

The Iraq Paradox

Legal Fiction nails it:
So this is the dilemma. I desperately want to succeed in Iraq. Our soldiers’ sacrifices should not be ignored and they have raised the stakes for all of us to take Iraq more seriously. At the same time, if the memo [showing that the Bush administration determined we were going to war in Iraq regardless of what the intelligence said and that the timing was deliberately set to cause maximum damage to Democrats in the 2002 midterms] is true, the administration did a great wrong to all of us and they should bloody well pay for it. This memo (again, if true) is literally one million times more significant than Watergate. The administration should be denounced and punished for it.

For center-left Democrats like me, who truly believe in democracy promotion and who take our obligations to the world and to Iraqis seriously, this is the problem. We want Iraq to succeed. We need Iraq to succeed. But throwing our entire weight behind the endeavor means giving the Bush administration's arrogance, incompetence, and severe damage to our cause what amounts to a free pass. This sets a dangerous precedent, that the ends justify the means, that politicians will not be held accountable for their errors. When Bush said that the 2004 elections were his "accountability moment" (as if accountability was a singular event that has now passed), he really revealed something critical about himself. He does not believe he ever makes mistakes. He does not believe he ever should have to apologize. So long as he garners that 50.1% (whether it's in an election or in a House vote), he considers himself vindicated. When a problem inevitably presents itself, he finds a scapegoat, preferably a Democrat. When a Democrat is nowhere to be found, he finds a scapegoat and just calls him a Democrat, truth be damned (see, e.g., Richard Clarke).

This utter contempt for self-reflection and self-criticism is intolerable. Truth matters, and it damn well matters more when we're talking about life-and-death, about foreign wars, about domestic policies that determine whether millions of working families can afford to get healthcare, than it does when the subject is who put what sex organ where. The Bush administration has demonstrated, time and again, that it cares more about being on top than being right. It should not be rewarded. And it will not see my support.

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