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May 10, 2004

Sully and Antiwar Arguments

Andrew Sullivan is almost ready to admit that the war was a mistake, not because he thinks the goal was wrong but because the Bushies were the wrong people to execute it:

The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time. I was wrong. I sensed the hubris of this administration after the fall of Baghdad, but I didn't sense how they would grotesquely under-man the post-war occupation, bungle the maintenance of security, short-change an absolutely vital mission, dismiss constructive criticism, ignore even their allies (like the Brits), and fail to shift swiftly enough when events span out of control.
Add in an assumption of basic malfeasance and corporate cronyism making a lie of the stated Bush goals and this was my position on the war, and on the war in Afghanistan.

As I said in March 2003, my opposition to war in Iraq was opposition to Bush personally, not to the idea that evil people like Saddam might need to be taken out by military means at times. I supported the war in Kosovo on that exact basis, but that was because I believed the Clinton administration would actually act competently and with some degree of good faith in building the needed international support:

Contrast that with Afghanistan where power was turned over to an ex-oil executive backed (or subverted) by non-elected warlords around the country. Maybe elections will happen in 2004 as promised but with the population terrorized by warlords, who can take them too seriously?

So yes, Bush has proven himself unfit to govern a world where he ignores both global and local democracy, just as his economic malfeasance makes him unfit to govern here at home.

At the time, I despaired that the peace movement was failing to raise these kinds of concerns, that would have appealed to the undecided folks. Unfortunately, the Bush incompetents faced off against an anti-war opposition that had its own nasty underbelly of malfeasance/incompetence in the form of the ANSWER sectarians, a point I elaborated on in this post.

I wish we could have prevented the hell of this war, for both the Iraqi people and our own soldiers dying by the day, and pursued a multilateral strategy to push change in the country. It would have been slower, but at this point it's hard to argue that the Iraqi people have benefited from Bush's arrogance and incompetence versus a slower, steadier approach to democratization in Iraq.

Posted by Nathan at May 10, 2004 08:25 AM