Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sullivan on the Newest Big Lie: Obama Lost Iraq
With Special Attention to Jennifer Rubin and Peter Wehner

If truth beats out lies in this case, the Bush-Cheney administration will go down in history as one of America's most disastrous, and Iraq as their primary failure. They dragged the U.S. into a war that was not merely unnecessary, but counter-productive, and which had as opportunity costs the exacerbation of problems in Afghanistan and the survival of OBL for ten years after 9/11. Oh: and their ten-year occupation of Iraq was, to say the very least, a non-success.

But being a contemporary American conservative means never having to say you're sorry...nor even that you were wrong. Responsibility for Iraq--like responsibility for all of the Bush/Cheney administration's other myriad errors--lies with everyone but the people who made them happen. Everything that wasn't Clinton's fault is Obama's; it is an axiom that the only error a Republican can commit is to be insufficiently conservative.

Here is Sullivan taking on the Bush dead-enders--in this case, specifically the loathsome Jennifer Rubin and one Peter Wehner on these points. And Sullivan is right. There is simply no even vaguely plausible way to pin the Iraq disaster on Obama. It is Bush's and Cheney's and the GOP's fault, approximately as much as any huge policy error is any one parties. (The pusillanimous Dems went along with the crackpot the pusillanimous will do...but, once again, it was the GOP who led the charge into fiasco.)

Extremists and other misologists--and both categories now include a large percentage of American conservatives--do not confront the evidence honestly. They exaggerate favorable evidence and gerrymander away any unfavorable evidence. In the case of anything as complex as the Iraq debacle, there will always be something you can say to provide the kind of rhetorical and psychological cover you need to keep from having to--heaven forfend--admit error or change your mind.

One obligation we have here is to object to the big lies about Iraq every time they surface. What the propagandists want us to do is to be silent; their hope is to sway the uninformed by sheer force of repetition. Our job is to make sure that we do not weary of disputing their lies and cede the field to them on this point. Even if truth and history did not matter to us for their own sakes, whitewashing the Iraq debacle makes it more likely that the country will allow itself to be led into such a disaster again in the future. The GOP fears that less than they fear admitting error; so championing the truth in this matter is up to the rest of us.


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