Iraq War

Rep. Walter Jones, Who Supported and Then Denounced Iraq War, Is Dying

The second-generation congressman from North Carolina is a profile in principle and courage.

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In 1692, Samuel Sewall was one of the judges who condemned 20 "witches" to death during the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Unlike the other judges, Sewall not only realized he was wrong, he made a public showing of his error: wearing sackcloth for the remainder of his life, having his apology read before his congregation, and calling for a day of fasting and penance to honor the wrongfully executed. Sewall was haunted the rest of his days by the destructive power of arbitrary and mistaken authority. In 1700, he authored what is largely considered the first abolitionist tract in the British colonies, The Selling of Joseph, drawing on biblical allusions to argue the anti-slavery cause. In 1725, he published Talitha Cumi, which argued for an early form of equality for women.

Rep. Walter Jones (R–N.C.) is a contemporary version of Sewall, at least when it comes to American foreign policy. First elected to Congress in 1994, the 75-year-old congressman has entered hospice care and is expected to die over the next few days. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, he was an unregenerate hawk who, after France refused to join the "coalition of the willing" in the Middle East, pushed to rename french fries "freedom fries."

But by March 2003, shortly after the U.S. invasion and occupation had begun, he became convinced that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence reports to make the case for war. He began writing letters—more than 11,000, according to the AP— to the families of soldiers killed in action. "For me," explained Jones to the press, "it's a sacred responsibility that I have to communicate my condolences to a family."

In 2013, he told the audience at a Young Americans for Liberty conference, "Lyndon Johnson's probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney."

The son of a Democratic congressman from North Carolina, Jones served for a decade in the North Carolina legislature as a Democrat before trying to win his father's seat in 1992. (He lost in the primary.) By 1994, he had switched parties and won a seat. A socially conservative Baptist who converted to Catholicism and opposes gay marriage, he had high ratings from the NRA but also from NORML, the pot legalization group, which gave him a B+ in 2017. He voted against bailouts during the financial crisis.

Haunted by his 2002 vote to authorize force in Iraq, Jones posted almost 600 pictures of killed American troops outside of his congressional office. As the AP reports:

"I will never forget my mistake because people died because of my mistake," he said. "I bought into believing that President Bush didn't really want to go to war. That's how naive I was at the time….I could have voted no, and I didn't."…

Those who pass by "may not stop, but they're going to look at those faces," Jones said. "They might keep walking, but they're going to see those faces."

It's rare enough to find a politician or leader who admits to his or her mistakes. Like Sewall in colonial times, Jones, to his credit, did more than that. He actively worked to undo the damage he caused.

Over the weekend, Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) paid tribute to his colleague:

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  1. How odd. You praise him for work he did to undo the damage he caused yet list not one single act of undoing that damage.
    Regret and repentance undo nothing, they just let people feel better about having done evil.
    He should rot in the embrace of Johnson and Cheney.

    1. You obviously know nothing about Jones. He has been a far more reliable anti-war voice on nearly every conflict abroad than even Amash or Massie (to a lesser extent).

  2. Haunted by his 2012 vote to authorize force in Iraq,

    I’d not sure if I’d be “haunted,” but I’d certainly be embarrassed if I had voted to authorize an invasion that had taken place nine years earlier.

    1. When is Reason going to get an edit feature so people can correct errors like omitting the html tag to turn off italics?

      1. On his deathbed, Gillespie will confess that he needed an edit feature for the oppressed commentators of Reason.

        The Jacket will then laugh maniacally and fly out the window in search of a new host.

        1. Will The Jacket renounce his past authorship of the Alyssa Milano newsletters?

          1. I liked Milano a lot better when she was young, hot, got naked in movies, and kept her trap shut about politics.

        2. LOL

          We really do need an edit button though… And the character limit needs to be expanded.

          IIRC the comments used to be allowed to be longer. Why in gods name they would REDUCE the character limit I do not know. This is not a site populated by morons who can’t string together more than 140 characters when debating things.

  3. I don’t expect this comments section will go well.

  4. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, he was an unregenerate hawk who, after France refused to join the “coalition of the willing” in the Middle East, pushed to rename french fries “freedom fries.”

    Cubbies, a restaurant in Jone’s district, was the origin of Freedom Fries. I had them with a burger. Although if you find yourself in Carteret county I recommend El’s. Order the Super Oyster Burger

  5. Hate to break it to you, but he’s a modern day witch-burner: he’s a pro-life nut. Plus he is silent on the Venezuela coup that will result in many deaths. Sorry but I’m not sure his eleventh hour conversion will keep him out of hell.

    1. You are such an interesting user here.

      1. You have an interesting strategy to get into heaven. I dare say, ambitious.

        1. That was an actual compliment. You have a lot of different views and I find you hard to peg. That’s interesting.

          1. Oh you mean I’m a standard libertarian posting his standard libertarian views promoting freedom and equal rights? True, that is ‘different’. And if you keep up with these ‘compliments’ I will be obliged to ask St Peter to put you on his ‘nice’ list. #bahumbug

            1. I don’t know about that. You have long running commentary about mental illness that is uncommon here. And in general you have pretty interesting views.

              But now I’m curious. Do you consider yourself to be average for a libertarian and is it insulting that I consider your viewpoints interesting?

          2. That’s my view. Hard to peg on any axis, but strong on certain positions

    2. I’m 100% opposed to US intervention in Venezuela, but the coup happened years ago when Maduro usurped the democratic and constitutional system of governance to maintain autocratic power with the backing of the military. The legislature declaring him illegitimate is not a coup.

      1. OK fine you can go to heaven. #grumblegrumble

      2. And yet, he was elected democratically. The electoral college elected Trump. I suspect with the guidance of the cigars and brandy. Have you read John Perkins yet? What is the source of your beliefs?..peace

        1. You are a grade a dumbass.

          1. Very erudite; explain what you mean.

    3. Fuck. You.

      1. Libertarians can be pro-life. Hate to break it to you.

      2. He’s silent on the coup, because he’s in hospice care, moron. He also didn’t vote on the Yemeni crisis. He’s ill.

      1. People who go around cursing and insulting people are not the ones I’d trust to care about the sanctity of life.

        1. You literally bashed an honorable man who is dying for not voting the way you desire. But yes, I could have been more civil.

    4. Why is being Pro-Life necessarily nutty? Understand, I believe that abortion should be and should remain legal. But I think the villification of the Pro-Life side is counterproductive. To my mind, a ‘Pro-Life Nut’ would be onef the bomb planters or abortionist assassins. Has Jones done either?

      By painting Pro-Life as evil instead of simply a disagreement, one encourages stupidity like the Pro-Choice folks in Pennsylvania who turned a blind eye to Kermit Gonsnell’s abattoir. That idiocy is going to cost abortion supporters for years to come.

      1. Wow I’m going to make a killing off my Sack Cloth ‘n Ashes Amazon store.

        PS – at the risk of getting all my comments deleted again by Reason – thank you Reason for (almost) never deleting comments.

        1. Agreed; KOS blocked me for pointing out Hillary’s “private” speeches to the banker elites. Censorship is sad, sorry stuff, (and the new Big Brother venue). Especially when it is about simply stating facts. Censorship at Facebook got hard and heavy just after the cigars and brandy began to call Marky Z. to task; he began to have too much of their money, for their comfort. And I note al the new money tech boys were called to task at the same time; a message from well, the “poor” elites; the cigars and brandy. Anyone see the fairly obvious? Scary stuff for any and all good Americans (Kudos to REASON! In every sense!…:-) It may be some time before America wakes up to the newest form of threat to our national security; censorship is very bad, folks. The theater is not on fire, yet.

        2. Are you that guy who screams things like “left minus right equals zero”?

          1. I’m not seeing any sign of the Hihnfaggot in that post.

      2. “That idiocy is going to cost abortion supporters for years to come.”

        Bwahahaha. Yeah, where? Did not slow Governor Cuomo’s declaring open season on the unborn. NAP anyone?

        1. Fuck the NAP. We are at war with the progressives and folks better get used to hitting back, hard. If they expect to survive without being enslaved by them.

    5. It was hardly an eleventh hour conversion, he regretted his vote less than a year after making it, and has been trying to make amends ever since. As for the rest, no one is perfect, but admitting even one mistake gives him more integrity than most politicians

    6. “Hate to break it to you, but he’s a modern day witch-burner: he’s a pro-life nut”

      Hate to break it to you, but so are roughly half of libertarians. Women most certainly have right, but you know who else does? Babies. One of them is the right to stay alive. And yes, they are a real sentient person LONG before 40 weeks is up. No matter which side of the birth canal we’re talking about.

      Maybe you should learn some science or the subject. You sound like some religious nut.

  6. So, I asked this in the other thread. Did he have any comments for the 100,000+ Iraqis who died in this conflict? Both soldiers and civilians?

    1. Virtue-signaling only works for American dead in NC 3.

      Mourning dead Arabs won’t earn you many votes in that district.

      1. And yet, they go to church once a week, and proclaim their belief in Jesus Christ, whom is one of those North African/ Middle Easterners.

        1. Yeah, but they just consider Jesus to be like the #2 prophet after Muhammad or something, which isn’t good enough for bible thumpers.

          But in all seriousness, who cares about dead Iraqis? I can’t be bothered one way or another really… I’m just pissed about wasting trillions of dollars! We could have like dozens of fucking Mars bases with that kind of money, which is a LOT cooler than dead Iraqis!

          1. “I don’t know which is worse; doing your own thing, or just being cool” B. Dylan
            Let’s build civilization on earth before we try to put it on Mars, yes?

            1. Pshhh. If we wait around for THAT to happen, we’ll never have Mars bases!

              So we just have to storm on ahead!

    2. I encourage you to read about Jones. He’s a pretty fascinating guy

  7. That’s how naive I was at the time….I could have voted no, and I didn’t.”…

    You and many other fools believed those Code Red/Yellow/etc terror alerts the administration posted daily all to keep you in a state of fear for political means.

  8. convinced that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence reports

    Yellowcake don’t make itself.

    1. Nor does the delicious chocolate frosting that is so good on it.

  9. “…he told the audience…’Lyndon Johnson’s probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney'”

    Not that I necessarily disagree – LBJ was a horrible human being – but I’m curious as to why JFK gets a pass. He was the one who started the ball rolling in Vietnam, and given his “bear any burden, pay any price” rhetoric and anti-commie inclinations there’s no indication he would have done anything differently.

    And unless I’m mistaken, George W. Bush was the POTUS in 2003. So using Jones’ logic wouldn’t Dubya have a reservation at the table too?

    Selective outrage like this tells me Jones reserves his ire only for unpopular people, a common characteristic of a career politician.

    1. Mostly because Kennedy had nice hair.

    2. The Vietnam story began with Allied betrayal of the Vietnamese after WWII; Ho Chi Minh lived in Harlem, studied at Oxford, helped save many downed Allied pilots, and fought the Vichy French. He modeled the Vietnamese Constitution after the American Constitution because he saw it as the most honorable document he had ever read. The boys who fought that war are heroes; the old men who sent them are war criminals.

      1. Posting nonsense all over the place. I see we have a fan of selective historical revisionism.

        1. Not sure if you are trying to speak to me but, and the empty, silly pap we were told is in serious need of revision; perhaps I should say the truth will set you free. I’m not stating my opinions here, just simple easily;y found facts. You can’t see through walls built of what? Fear? Brainwashing? You tell me. (And, yes: “The boys who fought that war are heroes, the old men who sent them” is my opinion; based on fact, and laws accepted by millions, began with Nuremberg. (And, yes, I know that everything the Nazis did was completely legal. Yes, I select every source I can find, and make my own mind up. How can historical fact you have never read be revised?

    3. A couple things.

      Supposedly JFK was going to wind down our presence in Vietnam. That is at least an oft reported thing. So there’s that.

      Second, I used to be like “WTF, Vietnam was so dumb! Why were we there???” Then I learned a lot more, and IMO got smarter and more nuanced about it. Of course it seems like a bad move NOW. The thing was at the time the communists were literally funding violent revolutions ALL OVER the entire world. People genuinely feared communism taking over everywhere. Because it really could have.

      The truth is we saved half of Korea by choosing to do the exact same thing only a few years earlier. That ended up being a damn decent thing to do. South Korea is now one of the wealthiest, most prosperous, and civilized countries on earth. By strictly non interventionalist principles we should have let them fall to communism… But at the time the domino effect seemed plausible. Had we not fought them via proxy wars, for all we know it might have actually happened.

      My only complaint about Vietnam is that if we’re going to fight a war, FIGHT THE DAMN WAR TO WIN. If we had we might have saved millions from living under communist oppression, and Vietnam would probably be a far better country today. It seems dumb sitting here today, but I’ll cut them slack for that decision at the time. There is no similar excuse for our recent wars.

      1. Just to add to your comment: the Great Depression was still on a lot of people’s minds during this time period. The thought process was basically the Domino Theory coming to fruition resulting in a loss of trade partners (countries that could absorb the US’s excess production capacity, particularly after the Post WWII boom) which in turn would lead to another severe depression.

        There was also some fear that if these small SE Asian nations fell to communism then Japan could be next to fall and the US had too much invested in Japan to lose it to the communists.

        I’m not endorsing these views but rather I am pointing them out for some additional historical perspective.

        1. That all seems plausible. And possible.

          As I said above, the truth is we will never know if the domino theory MIGHT have actually happened if we hadn’t fought them tooth and nail in basically every country on earth that attempted a communist revolution.

          I don’t even know what the total count is, but I can think of more than a dozen I think off the top of my head. There were probably more attempts that didn’t get as far. It was some for real shit.

          That’s why I cut people slack for Vietnam nowadays. Hindsight is always 20/20. How did we not know we were going to AT LEAST as successful as in Korea? Or maybe moreso?

  10. Jones is a great man and one of the staunchest critics of regime change in the U.S. Congress. Fuck everyone in this comments section who thinks they have the right to render judgment on somebody who had the decency to see the error of his beliefs.

    1. Yup. The same people who jump to the defense of Gary “Permanent Bases in Afghanistan” Johnson are more than willing to trash a guy who is beloved by anti-war activists today, because he made a bad vote (that the majority of politicians still in office today did as well).

      1. Jones is easy to bash, because he’s socially conservative. If he supported subsidies for Planned Parenthood and special “bake the cake” legislation, he’d get a full endorsement from the folks who think Johnson should run in 2020.

        1. Gone are the days of “get the government out of the boardroom and the bedroom”. Now it’s “get the government back in the bedroom (but for the “right” reasons)”.

          “Fiscally incoherent and socially totalitarian” is the cosmo creed

          1. Look no further than Sarwark’s immediate vilification of the Covington boys to see how progressive dogma (not necessarily of the social or economic variety) haunts the LP.

            1. Best subthread ever.

  11. Peace and blessings to Walter Jones

  12. Good riddance.Another Iran firster and lover of the Islamic enemy — just like you guys. Hey! Pando pointed out your romance with holocaust denial, if he dies I’ll just say that it is a myth that he died because that is what you do with the holocaust.

    p.s., Yesterday was…holohoax remembrance day. . We spies for Israel alll observed it.

    There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.

    1. Bill Kristol comments on Reason articles?

    2. I do not understand. Some context would be helpful.

    3. No clue what exactly you’re railing on… But the funny thing is SOME of the holocaust revisionism stuff is actually factual.

      No Jews were ever made into soap… Or lampshades. But that was put in documentaries and books for decades. The Auschwitz death toll has been lowered by literally millions from the outrageous claims made right after the war. The supposed intact gas chamber at Auschwitz… It’s a mock up that was done by the Russians after they captured it, and claimed it was real. It doesn’t even seal air tight OR have any method for putting the zyklon B into the chamber. That stuff, and a lot more, was all anti German propaganda.

      I don’t dispute that millions of Jews died. But how and under what conditions… There are many credible facts that dispute many of the commonly held popular perceptions of the holocaust. I wouldn’t doubt if over the coming decades some more of the crazier things people claim now are walked back as being exaggerations or fabrications, since some evidence seems to point that direction for certain things.

    4. Underz; Have you ever been to Germany? The Germans keep spectacularly detailed records, and they did so thoroughly before and during WWII and even they say the Holocaust happened.

      1. Actually… There isn’t really a single record that shows “the holocaust” in the way everybody thinks about it commonly happened.

        There are no gas chamber designs at camps (although they did keep records of small scale experiments at mental hospitals for euthanasia). There are no schematics. There are no architectural designs showing them. Etc.

        Likewise with death records, which they did keep fairly meticulously.

        This is actually one of the things revisionists bring up when trying to claim no gassings ever happened. The Germans kept records of shooting hundreds of thousands of civilians in the back of the head on the eastern front… There are tons of records, and orders to do so. So why is there not a single document discussing gas chambers? Also not a single German/Polish/Ukrainian soldier ever said they saw one. Literally only 1 or 2 Jewish witnesses ever claimed to see one, AND they were discredited on other parts of their stories.

        1. I’ve watched/read some of these people for kicks. They make interesting points like the above, many of which are in fact verifiably true, but I certainly don’t believe outright. There are just a lot of swiss cheese holes in the “typical” narrative as is spouted out by the mainstream media/academia. It’s one of those things where you’re pretty sure the conspiracy theorists have a lot of it wrong, but they point out just enough to make you realize the official story has some obvious bullshit woven in too. The fact that the Russians now ADMIT to making a fake gas chamber at Auschwitz and claiming it was real is enough to make one wonder…

          In short their claim is that gas chambers either didn’t exist at any camp, or were used only small scale/experimentally. They think the death toll numbers are about right though (or most revisionists do anyway, some think the official death count is high), just that they mostly died from disease and starvation… Which isn’t really much nicer, but is more forgivable perhaps since German civilians were starving to death at the time too. They think gassing was turned into a thing as a propaganda piece.

          Since we got caught making up so much other stuff, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. If you want to trip out some of the Holocaust revisionism videos are kinda cool to check out as they have a lot of weird and obscure WWII history tid bits in them! LOL

  13. Is it really literally not possible for anyone to be wrong about anything? Including libertarians?

    Afghanistan and Iraq both have democratic governments, today. Overwhelming majorities in both countries say the invasions were worth it to remove otherwise unremovable, brutal tyrants.

    What decent human being could look at those situations, compare them to the rule of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and say to themselves, “Nope. Nothing good happened here.”

    Those outcomes are objectively better for anyone not just trying to make these wars about them and their unfailing judgment and not about the better opportunities that democratic governments offer Afghans and Iraqis.

    George Bush was wrong to sell the war in Iraq as a war of self-defense rather than a war of choice. It was dishonest and engendered mistrust in both efforts which he and his Administration are responsible for.

    Duly noted.

    But can anyone really pretend that democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t better than the unending murder, oppression, and brutality of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein?

    Those inescapable facts on the ground really give folks zero pause? None at all? Not even an itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie pause???

    1. Any ideological group for which facts as serious as those do not give them pause to question their own assumptions – Wars of liberation never produce good outcomes? Are you sure? How about South Korea? – are just as lost in the stubborn defenses of ideologues as any left wing or right wing ideologue has ever been.

      Is that really what libertariansism is? Just another variation on the same stubborn defenses of far too certain assumptions of ideologues?

      In which case, they really have nothing fresh to offer. Just the third ring in a three ring circus.

      Let’s hope that’s not the case.??

    2. I’m with you on South Korea… But I don’t think we had any business in Iraq or Afghanistan, beyond maybe whacking Bin Laden.

      The thing is, it’s not our jobs to ensure that every country on earth is a stable western style democracy. The reason we haven’t been able to get out of those countries is because either a majority or a LARGE minority DO NOT WANT to be a western style democracy. You can’t force somebody to do what is in their own best interests.

      If we wanted to try to force the whole world to have proper governments, we’d need to invade most of the rest of the middle east, North Africa, most of the rest of Africa, China, Russia, a chunk of Latin America, several countries in Asia…

      Does that seem reasonable? So why the hell should we have chosen Iraq and Afghanistan out of ALL those countries?

      The truth is Saddam wasn’t actually THAT bad of a dictator. The country under his rule was wealthier than it is now, basically a 2nd world nation. A shining example compared to most of that region of the world. Also, he killed far fewer of his own people than WE HAVE. So fewer people would have died had we not got involved. It is entirely possible Iraq may have transitioned to an authoritarian, but slightly more democratic, system of government when he kicked the bucket anyway, WITHOUT trillions wasted and around 1 million dead (IIRC between the 2 wars and interwar period).

      Bottom line, it ain’t our job to save the world.

      1. Yeah; even George Washington warned about involvement in other’s affairs. And he did not realize “the world” would become our backyard. If we should stay out of other people’s “salvation”, why do we have over 700 military bases in every country we can get into. (“It’s the resources, stupid”). I read that somewhere.

        1. Yup. Can you imagine how much better off this country would have been if we’d spent those trillions DOMESTICALLY? Jesus. It’s more than all student loan debt. Auto loans. Credit card debt. Etc.

          We could have ate TRILLIONS more $.99 cent cheeseburgers too! Just a waste all around.

      2. Well, the Afghans and Iraqis, by and large, disagree with that assessment of the worthiness of those invasions. A fact that should give anyone pause.

        http://acsor-surveys.com/wp-co…..NAL-v2.pdf

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War

        77% of Afghans and 61% of Iraqis say the invasions were worth it. For reasons that are totally common sense for anyone who might be living under those brutal regimes rather than comfortably commentating on them from afar.

        Let’s start with Afghanistan.

        In 15 years of discussing that war, I have yet to hear one realistic alternative to invasion.

        Unlike Saddam Hussein, the Taliban were, in fact, fellow-travelers with Al Qaeda, Islamists giving protection to their fellow Islamists in the mountains near the Khyber Pass after their attack at 9/11. The Taliban cheered and abetted that attack. And we’re giving them free reign to plan another inevitable and bolder attack with no American response. There was zero chance the Taliban were going to hand over Al Qaeda members for legal extradition given their active support of their activities.

        1. Which left one of two options:

          One, remove the Taliban from power, a group that had never been elected and notoriously brutalized Afghans in the most unspeakable ways to inspire fear and maintain power, to go on the offense against Al Qaeda and prevent another bolder attack. Something we did successfully, it should be noted, as an important fact to challenge the confirmation bias of those who oppose intervention as a rule.

          Or two, take no meaningful action against Al Qaeda and wait for them to attack again bigger and bolder until we found the courage to follow through on the first option.

          I would love to hear a realistic alternative, not just vain confirmation bias about this situation, outside of invasion that would have prevented Al Qaeda from attacking again.

          I have not heard a resistive alternative in all the time I’ve discussed that war, which was a straightforward war of self-defense.

          That has resulted in the end one the most brutal reigns in the world by the Taliban over and against most Afghans and the first sustained democratic government in Afghanistan, which the Afghans believe was worth that invasion in overwhelming numbers.

          1. The concern, right now, very much like Korea, is that we exit in terms that are as favorable as possible to the Afghans and its nascent democratic government and as least favorable to the thuggish predations of the Taliban as much as possible.

            But no matter how you slice it, most Afghans believe that a democratic government is preferable to the brutalizing predations of the Taliban for obvious reasons to anyone not trying to justify themselves otherwise. And that life without the constant fear and brutality that Taliban inflicted on the Afghan people is better for it.

            1. The war in Iraq is different. The war in Iraq was not a war of self-defense. It was a war of choice sold as a war of self-defense. Something that undermined people’s trust in the invasion and support for both wars, over time. Unfairly to the war in Afghanistan, since that invasion had no other realistic alternative that I can think of or have heard of.

              The fact that the war in Iraq was a war of choice sold as a war of self-defense has everything to do with the draining support and too often ineffective prosecution of that war under both the Bush Administration and Obama Administrations.

              I opposed this war upfront as a very active liberal partisan. So I have no skin in being critical or supportive of this war. I am just sharing my honest thoughts.

              All I care about, in this discussion, upfront at least, is what Afghans and Iraqis believed served them best. We’ll get to Americans in a bit.

              1. The war in Iraq was a mess, that’s for sure, as the Administration’s expectations and rhetoric collided with realities they did not anticipate. Both at home and in Iraq. And fighting wars on two fronts at once.

                It became clear enough that Iraq did not have sufficient weapons of mass destruction to be an existential threat to Americans, as the Administration has claimed.

                That doesn’t mean they didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. They clearly did have chemical and biological weapons and the building blocks for the development of nuclear weapons with full confidence by those familiar with the Hussein regime that they planned to restart development of each of those weapons commitments after sanctions were lifted.

                None of that means they posed an existential threat to America or Americans. They did not. Nor does it justify their use at a pretext for a less-than-honest case for an invasion of Iraq as a war of self-defense. It does not. And that war was not an honest war of self-defense. More than anything else, the fact that it was sold as something it became fairly clear it was not soon enough was why it, fairly, undermined trust in the Administration and their military leadership.

                1. President Bush is responsible for the undermined support for the Iraq War and less fairly, the Afghanistan War, full stop. He and his Administration will not take responsibility for that fact, but they are responsible for that fact whether they take responsibility or not.

                  President Obama is responsible for a precipitous and foolishly rushed withdrawal from Iraq that invited the predations of ISIS into that power vacuum. But that’s for another day.

                  1. But the mistrust that the less than honest case for withdrawal Iraq as a war of self-defense engendered should not lead objective observers to ignore two important facts are are impossible to explain away for honest observers.

                    One that Iraqis, for reasons that only make sense for those who had to live under Saddam Hussein and not pontificate on it from afar, believe the invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein was worth it in pretty solid numbers.

                    Hussein’s rule was brutal, arbitrary, and without any of the basic freedoms or opportunities that any of us take for granted in this conversation. Including and especially the opportunity to choose their government and remove Saddam Hussein by means other than violence.

                    Iraqis just did not have any organized, effective means of removing his regime. So they had to live with his overwhelmingly brutal predations. Until America invaded.

                    In addition to brutalizing and oppressing his people in ways you and I would find unrecognizable, he was implicated in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, hundreds of thousands more in wars of imperial design against Iran and Kuwait, and the ethnic genocide and mass murder of thousands of Kurds after the first Gulf War. If that sort of dictatorship could be characterized as “not so bad,” I cannot even imagine what kind of dictatorship would be bad enough to recognize it for the brutal tyranny that Saddam Hussein’s regime was.

                    1. And, despite all the many often very serious failings of the American government in invading Iraq and deposing Hussein, it is important to note that that invasion means that, today, Iraqis do not have to suffer the unending, arbitrary, brutal oppression of Saddam Hussein that would never have ended without some successful violent effort to overthrow him, in all likelihood.

                      What evidence is present for a peaceful end to Saddam Hussein’s rule? Was there an overwhelmingly corrupt but still present democracy like Iran? Was there municipal elections even under the brutal thumb of monarchical tyranny as in Saudi Arabia? Was there nascent but very real democratic government as there is in Tunisia or Afghanistan and Iraq, today?

                      No. There was none of that. There was unending tyranny with the likely false hope of reprieve with the passing of Hussein and the continued brutal oppression of the Iraqi people under his sons ready and anxious to take his place.

                    2. And note that even after the Arab Spring, that was likely inspired, in part, by the hope that the deposing of dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq inspired, the often corrupt, sectarian, too often illiberal regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq are still leagues and leagues better than most of the governments in the Middle East, save Israel and perhaps Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, critically without democracy, and the democracies of Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco, and Kuwait, and perhaps Egypt (though Egypt looks doubtful and Turkey is certainly not enviable, these days).

                      Largely because they both offer honest enough democratic elections where corrupt leadership can be rejected and new leadership can be elected. As frequently as those elections are relatively free and fair. And with democracy real opportunities for improvement of those countries and societies became possible in ways that the rule of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein made impossible and likely far worse, over time.

                      Another very important fact to give pause and perhaps humble confirmation bias that intervention can never produce better lives for people and nations.

                    3. Now, none of that means that people have to agree that the invasion of Iraq, certainly, was worth all of the blood spilled and expense undertaken.

                      As I said, I would love to hear a realistic alternative to the invasion of Afghanistan to prevent a bolder, more deadly attack by Al Qaeda, but I have yet to hear one in all the years I’ve discussed, read about, and considered this question of one honest, realistic alternative that did not results in many more Americans dying in a future attack. And I cannot fathom an honest understanding of human nature and those particular human beings that would suggest that they would end their destruction after their successful murder of three thousand Americans at 9/11.

                    4. But there are reasonable arguments to be made that for all the good that resulted for the lives of present and future Iraqis from the invasion of Iraq, that Americans or others may believe it was not worth it relative to their own interests.

                      The costs of the war were real. Both in terms of the number of Americans who died and the financial costs of the war. And Americans may reasonably feel they were not justified.

                      The outcomes were mixed. With a democratic government and majorities who believe it was worth it, given very few realistic alternatives to successfully depose Saddam Hussein.

                      But clearly much ambivalence towards American efforts, young Iraqis who have been polled as believing that Americans are their enemy not their ally after the war, and the hostile and violent reaction and response by many Iraqis and the overwhelming and hostile response by Muslims in the Muslim world to the invasion.

                      If I am an Iraqi who does not want to live under the unrelenting and unchangeable brutality of Saddam Hussein, it makes eminent sense that the invasion was worth it. Who wouldn’t want to escape that kind of brutality?

                      But Americans may have reasonable questions about the worthiness of the effort and may want to rethink such efforts in the future.

                    5. They also may be willing to consider them given the enormous good that has been achieved in places like South Korea, Afghanistan, and even Iraq through intervention, as well as Germany and Japan, with the honest and reasonable caviat that WWII was clearly a war of self-defense.

                      But amidst those calculations, it should not be overlooked that the absence of Saddam Hussein’s regime and its brutality, destruction, and mass murder and a democratic government that allows Iraqis to choose who governs them and to change and improve over time is an overwhelmingly important fact to consider in those assessments. And definitely to challenge the notion that no good was done for Iraq in those invasions.

                      Iraqis don’t believe that no good came from that invasion. For obvious reasons.

                      And the whole point of a war to genuinely liberate people to allow them to determine their own destiny is to respect their self-determination and self-determining assessments of their own welfare.

                    6. When people do not want to be liberated from tyrannical regimes – as looks to be the case in North Korea, for instance, and many other tyrannies, I’m sure – there is no good case for regime change since it violates the principle of self-determination that underpins democracy and the value of democratic government in the first place.

                      But as long as Iraqis and Afghans indicate that those invasions were worth it and benefit from the deposing of their brutal, tyrannical predecessors and the presence of dynamic democratic governments where they can choose who governs them, then Americans need to be honest that assessments that say that those invasions were not worth it are a function of their assessment of their own interests, not the interests of Iraqis and Afghans.

                      Afghans and Iraqis are better off without the brutal predations of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein and with democratic governments in their place, I think, objectively. And their own reporting on their self-assessment of their lives and interests indicate the same.

                    7. Americans may decide they don’t want to engage in an invasion like either of those invasions again.

                      But we need to be honest about whose interests underpin such a conclusion.

                      And it’s not Afghans or Iraqis, I don’t think. It’s not even Americans, as an objective matter, in the case of Afghanistan, where I have yet to hear a realistic alternative to preventing future attacks than the invasion and deposing of that regime and the destruction of Al Qaeda.

                      And if people decide they do not want to undertake a future invasion and war of choice like the one in Iraq – or the one that successfully liberated South Korea or the occupations that successfully transformed Germany and Japan, with the honest acknowledgement that that war was a straightforward war of self-defense – they need to be honest that such assessments are generally calculations of our own interests.

                      Not the interests of Afghans and Iraqis who have objectively benefited from the deposing of those brutal regimes and the presence of democratic governments. And who say so themselves. Which only makes sense when we set aside calculations of our interests and think about all of this from their point of view.

                      All of that, at a very minimum, should give pause to the notion that no good has been done in Afghanistan and Iraq and average Afghans and Iraqis.

                    8. If it doesn’t give any pause, it is a sign of confirmation bias for the notion that interventions are bad, or wrong, or destined to fail that ignores abundant evidence to challenge that notion.

                      The kind of confirmation bias that is rampant and central to liberal and conservative ideologies.

                      And would render libertarians as just another clearly more weak and ineffectual version of ideologue, not people who consider these questions as matter of honest principle, if libertarians just try to explain away those very important facts that challenge their assumptions. Rather than to honestly take seriously their merits and to consider if they may be wrong that interventions to support freedom and democracy libertarians otherwise zealously advocate for themselves to those who cannot so easily take them for granted are always without merit.

                    9. South Korea is a glaring reminder that that interventions clearly can do much good for a people.

                      Afghanistan and Iraq are less decisive but still real challenges to that notion as well.

                      Honest people will and should consider those facts on their merits. Even and especially when it challenges their assumptions about the world.

                      To do otherwise is to be the very kinds of arrogant, stubborn, proud ideologues that libertarians, rightly, recognize liberal and conservative ideologues to be more often than not.

                      Libertarians offer the most hope in terms of principled commitment in liberal democracies, these days, I think.

                      This question, more than any other, puts that hope to the test.

                      Let’s hope they and America pass that test, at the end of the day.

                      I’m hopeful, on that front.

                      We’ll see what the tide brings.??

                    10. One last note. I apologize for the many typos in this response. I am endlessly frustrated with Reason that they do not allow editing of comments. And I should have edited better knowing that. I hope my meaning came through. If not, I’m more than willing to clarify.

                      My bad.??

  14. Why are you quoting some lame cuck like Sewall in an article about this Jones guy, who actually sounds semi decent and sane? What, do you have something against burning witches?

    Such a tool Nick!

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