I’m glad to see that Jonathan Kay is continuing his musings about the Iraq war. Sooner or later, I think, anyone who supported the war, and who is willing to reexamine it, is going to come down pretty much where Kay has.
I never shared the reverence for Bush that he alludes to. In fact, it was one of the things that began to make me queasy about the Bush presidency. National Review was one of the culprits, trying to make him into Churchill, when he’s clearly a very mediocre president. I suspect that the Bush haters out there have made it too easy for conservatives to dismiss any and all criticism as motivated, not by rational thought, but by animus towards Bush.
Nevertheless, now that the U.S., years later, is struggling to prevent Baghdad from turning into a new Beirut or Belfast, my impression is that a lot of conservatives are indeed taking a second look at the war and the administration’s prosecution of it.
There will always be a few last-ditchers; Iraq, like Vietnam, will always have its defenders. So be it. It’s possible to make a case that the war could have gone well. But not with this administration. The plain fact is that Bush was never that serious about turning Iraq into a functioning country.
The wishful, insouciant thinking that characterized the administration’s venture defies belief. Bush thought he was going to create a permanent Republican majority, but it looks more like he’s going to be hoist on his petard. His true legacy may be to have ruined the U.S. military for a decade and to achieve the seemingly impossible mission of resurrecting American liberalism.
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