To skip this introduction and go directly to read Jeff Weintraub’s In-Depth Analysis “Some Partial, Preliminary & Unfashionable Thoughts Toward Reassessing the 2003 Iraq War – Did Anything Go Right and What Were The Alternatives?” click here.
I was sure in the lead up to the Iraq War that it wouldn’t happen. It seemed obvious to me that it made no sense, and I couldn’t believe that the U.S. would embark on such foolishness. One of my big mistakes, obviously. While Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden and American capacity to wage two wars, one clearly by choice, seemed to be a huge strategic mistake, the war proceeded and escalated, and we have paid.
Nonetheless, I did understand why deposing Saddam was desirable. His regime was reprehensible. I respected those who called for opposition to its totalitarianism, from the informed Kanan Makiya to my Central European friends, Adam Michnik, Vaclav Havel, et al. I even said so at an anti-war rally.
Yet, connecting the means at our disposal with the desirable end of a free and democratic Iraq seemed to me to be an extraordinarily difficult project, and I had absolutely no confidence that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Company could pull it off. How could my intelligent friends who supported the war not see that? I actually had a number of heated public discussions with Michnik about that.
Once begun, I hoped that the intervention would be short and sweet, and hoped that a democratic transition could be managed, but as we now know these hopes were frustrated. From every point of view, the war was a disaster: for the Iraq, the region, the U.S., and the project of democracy, and the way the war was fought, as it was part of a purported global war against . . .