A Cautious Man
June 29, 2004
 
There's Got to be a Better Way
An article in today's New York Times, about William Buckley relinquishing his control of his magazine, National Review, contains the following interesting statement:
"With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," Mr. Buckley said. "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
What do we know now, about the wisdom of launching the invasion of Iraq, that we didn't know then? At the time, we knew that we did not have Security Council support, even though we were ostensibly enforcing Security Council resolutions. At the time, we knew that the work started in Afghanistan was not yet complete, work that had the support of a broad array of nations (including Muslim nations). At the time, we knew that Saddam Hussein's regime was effective confined within the borders of the "no fly" zone, and that northern Iraq was basically autonomous under Kurdish control. At the time, we knew that we had inspectors on the ground in Iraq (who left only when George Bush told them to get out, on the eve of war). At the time, we knew that responsible voices (religious as well as secular) were counseling against resorting to an invasion. At the time, we knew that an invasion would mean devastation - at least, we should have.

And what did our leaders know? A lot more, or at least they should have. They should have known that the justification for war was based on picking and choosing from intelligence - to build a case for war, not to decide whether to go ahead with one. They should have known that had little, if any, actual evidence to support a connection between Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And, at the very least, they should have known how difficult the occupation would have been (their top general had told them that the planning was inadequate, before they relieved him of duty).

One did not need a crystal ball, to see today's morass of continued violence without any discovery of WMDs, to have opposed the invasion.

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