Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Glenn Greenwald: The "Nobody-Could-Have-Known" Excuse

Right on the money--people did, in fact, know.

At least many people (e.g. Jim Webb and Howard Dean) warned against the Iraq war before it started and predicted the outcome with great precision.

It was obvious to anyone paying attention in the build-up to the war that the evidence for a threat to the U.S. was pathetically weak.

One of the most infuriating responses to this by conservatives is the but-the-Dems-went-along-with-it response. Why infuriating? Well, partially because true: so much of the fury has to be directed at the hapless, worthless, witless Dems. But, more to the point: as usual, the GOP is, in effect, criticizing the Dems for listening to them. I was torn about the war in the months before it began as well...but largely because I took the Administration's claims seriously. I had long, tortured discussions with a particularly astute colleague of mine, and our thinking was very similar: we'd rehearse the evidence and find it wanting...but then take the Administration's testimony into account. That testimony functioned to "anchor" (as psychologists say) the discussion in such a way as to make going to war a strong contender, even though the evidence was all against it--even though the evidence in favor was so weak that the option should never have been on the table. "What are we missing?," we kept thinking. And: "Are we just being obtuse? Letting our low opinions of these jokers obscure our vision?" Foolish, in retrospect, but we spent untold hours wrestling with the problem even though it was obvious that the reasons provided did not come close to justifying war. Stupid liberals; too open-minded to unequivocally take the obviously correct side in an argument.


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