Iraq War Consensus: Not Going Well (With Friends Like These Edition)


The fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has occasioned any number of pieces on the state of the war in Iraq (in a weird way, this symbolizes that the Bush administration has been completely successful in fusing the two things in the public's imagination). So check this out:

For all the good that the United States has done in ending the bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and giving the Iraqi people a chance at a democratic future, we have not managed to give Iraqis something that is no less important: protection from terrorists who are determined to destroy any decent future for them. And that may prove impossible to achieve if the United States fails to rethink its tactics on the battlefield and adopt a better strategy to help the Iraqi people confront the jihadists.

That's coming from reliable Bush ally (certainly on foreign policy), The Washington Times. Whole thing here.

Over at the Wash Post, Robert Kagan–an early and influential hawk (with the Weekly Standard's William Kristol, he beat the war drums early and often)–takes time to recall the halcyon days of yesteryear when everyone (almost) was in favor of toppling Saddam:

If you read even respectable journals these days, including this one, you would think that no more than six or seven people ever supported going to war in Iraq. A recent piece in The Post's Style section suggested that the war was an "idea" that President Bush "dusted off" five years after Bill Kristol and I came up with it in the Weekly Standard.

That's not the way I recall it. I recall support for removing Saddam Hussein by force being pretty widespread from the late 1990s through the spring of 2003, among Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, as well as neoconservatives. We all had the same information, and we got it from the same sources. I certainly had never based my judgment on American intelligence, faulty or otherwise, much less on the intelligence produced by the Bush administration before the war.

Whole thing here. Kagan's piece is useful in that it captures one of the reasons why we went to war in the first place: Beyond 9/11 (and that's a pretty big beyond), there was a fairly widespread consensus for years that Saddam was a problem could no longer be "contained." Well, there's nothing like a bungled occupation (see Wash Times above) to push the go-along crowd to the other side of the fence.

In our October 2002 issue, Reason looked back at the 9/11 attacks. Read our analyses here.

And long before the boots were on the ground, we hosted a debate on "Should we invade Iraq?" with Ohio State's John Mueller saying no and Cato Institute's Brink Lindsey saying yes. That's here.