Ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, David Ignatius excoriates it as “one of the biggest strategic blunders in modern American history.” The other big takeaway: He feels he “owe[s] readers an apology for being wrong on the overriding question of whether the war made sense.”
The media have not exactly been falling all over themselves with mea culpas over their/our unquestioning role during the run-up to the war, and some of the more than 5,000 commenters (and Tweeters) were quick to note this one, with varying degrees of mild, grudging gratitude and/or astonishment.
It’s an anniversary that we generally seem to feel pretty deflated about. At whatever point we turned against the war, as many of us did, there didn’t seem to be much we could actually do about it. Dirty hippie college freshman PostScript went to a pre-invasion protest with those puppets bigger than people, yelled a bit, bought bumper stickers and took pictures of really egregious signage errors (“Somewhere in Texas a Village is missing i’ts idiot.”) And it did nothing. She yelled at the TV a lot, too. None of the military people she knew well died or were injured or talked to her much about it. And now it’s 10 years old, and she feels flat about it. Defeated.
Of those still defending the invasion in the comments, ramseytuell had the most to say. PostScript edited a lot out for the sake of brevity:
I disagree – we did the right thing going into Iraq and cleaning that rats’ nest out. That nut-bag killer needed to be put down and the coalition of armed forces from twelve nations was a good and honorable move.
Then a bad thing happened. President Eisenhower said that we should not let the Military Industrial Complex get hold of our government. The destructive effect their activities have on our country is evident. They are the manufacturers and suppliers of war materials necessary to conduct a war. They control the goings on of the war and the reconstruction of infrastructure, etc after the wars, through K Street in Washington, DC and their influence on Congress and the Executive Branch is evident.
The Arabs have always viewed us as infidels and there is nothing we can do about it one way or another. They are sworn to kill us. We cannot appease them with our friendship or our money. We cannot change their thinking about us.
Other commenters took Ramsey to task.
What do you mean “we did the right thing” — you personally? Your kids?
If you are so supportive of the war, I’m curious if you are out there campaigning to have taxes raised – so that we can actually start paying for this 2.5 trillion dollar debacle?
But mostly commenters on the site, and on Twitter, are just angry–very angry–and sad.
The most painful lesson from the Iraq war is that we have learned nothing from previous wars we engaged in. We will be a little gun-shy for a while, like we were after Vietnam, but the next time that the powers that be want a war we will dutifully march off to do their bidding. After that war, pundits will ask if we had learned nothing from Iraq, and the answer will be no. Thus it ever was.
Former washingtonpost.com White House blogger Dan Froomkin: @froomkin:
Narrowly tailored apology from @IgnatiusPost may be the best we’ll get from that gang, but he still doesn’t get it.
The apology is welcome (if belated), but you [Ignatius] seem unwilling or unable to apply the “painful lessons of Iraq” to current repetitions of the Iraq scenario: You criticize President Obama for “passivity” concerning the Syrian conflict, when in fact President Obama has actively been demanding “regime change” for more than two years, and has been both directly and indirectly aiding the anti-government armed “rebels.” My point is not that my government should support dictatorships, stable or otherwise, but rather that if anything is to be learned from the Iraq fiasco, it sure is that promoting “regime change” — and working toward that end through direct military intervention or covert arming of known terrorist “rebels” — is bound to have tragic consequences both for our own nation and for the people of the foreign nation whose regime our Government decides should be changed.
Ali Abunimah @AliAbunimah:
From comfortable perch, regime loyalist @IgnatiusPost apologizes for being wrong about horrible catastrophe in Iraq
Alfonzo Porter @PorterEducation
@washingtonpost @IgnatiusPost Yet, no one is on trial or accused in the deaths of thousands of soldiers sent to war on trumped up assertions
patrick huss @patrickhuss
@IgnatiusPost Re: your apology. Shouldn’t such a catastrophic failure cost you credibility? Shouldn’t we doubt you?
And finally, because PostScript did it, too:
To all those I argued with against the war, I’m not big enough a person not to say it …I told you so.