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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's all the fault of the Iraqi people

(updated below)

At least the squirming, conniving neconservatives in this Vantiy Fair article are blaming their failed war on George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. As ugly as it is to watch the war's prime architects and chief advocates pretend that they had nothing to do with this disaster, more despicable still are the ones who are blaming the Iraqi people for what has happened. Look at what Paul Mirgenoff at Powerline said yesterday:

Unfortunately, though, more was required of the Iraqi people than just voting. The situation called on them to elect leaders who would work in good faith for national reconciliation, rather than tilting substantially in the direction of one sectarian faction. The Iraqis failed to do this when they voted in the Shia-militia-friendly Maliki government, thereby making it difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to work with the current government to curb sectarian violence.

The Iraqis, of course, are not the first people to make a very bad decision at the polls. The fact that they did so is not necessarily evidence of some national "genetic" flaw, much less a demonstration that democracy can't work in the Middle East. It just means that the Iraqi people did less than what a difficult situation required, and that we must face up to and deal with the consequences.

We invaded their country, removed their government, disbanded their military, shattered their infrastructure, and -- for the last three years -- all but stood by while the country was taken over by murderous gangs and lawless militias and predictably collapsed into civil war. But it's all their fault because they voted for the wrong candidate six months ago. If only the Iraqis had elected Ahmad Chalabi as Prime Minister, it would have all worked out great.

What makes Paul's excuse-making extra disgusting is that -- like so many of these war advocates who are blaming others for this debacle by claiming that it's all due to past mistakes by other people which they never criticized at the time -- Paul praised Maliki's election in April as the key event for achieving "national unity":

David Ignatitus in the Washington Post supplies something that has been lacking in the MSM -- an acknowledgement that the selection of Jawad al-Maliki to be Iraq's prime minister is good news. As a bonus, Ignatius explains why the selection enhances the chances of national unity. For one thing, al-Maliki represents "a modest declaration of independence from Iran." And by resisting Iranian pressure to back Ibrahim al-Jafari, Shiite leaders "stood up for a unified Iraq."

Anyone who advocated and defended this war for this long has great culpability. But the inability of so many of them to accept basic responsibility for what they have done -- pretending that it's everyone else's fault other than their own and simply lying about their prior views in order to make it seem like it all would have worked out great if everyone had just listened to them -- is just pathological. It really is difficult to maintain the most minimal amounts of civility or respect when writing about people like Paul because they so plainly deserve neither.

UPDATE: Paul also wrote this post in February, 2006, in which he explained that warnings about an imminent so-called "civil war" in Iraq were just the malicious invention by the "MSM." He entitled the post "The Civil War that Isn't":

Elements of the MSM seem to await a civil war in Iraq with the same breathlessness that Marxists used to await the final crisis of capitalism. . . .

Elements of the MSM make these two claims about the Bush administration -- that it failed to anticipate the very real prospect of a civil war in Iraq and that it has been incompetent in its management of post-invasion affairs. But there's a tension between these claims. If a civil war was likely, then the fact that we don't have one at this point (by any intelligent definition of the term) suggests that the administration has dealt skillfully with the politics of post-invasion Iraq.

"The administration has dealt skillfully with the politics of post-invasion Iraq" and worries about a "civil war" are just the hysterical desires of a Bush-hating media, which refuses to recognize how adept everything is being handled by the administration. That's basically what the administration and their followers claimed for the last two years, even as Iraq disintegrated before our eyes (it's the liberal media's fault for over-reporting the bad news because things are really going great there). Remember, though: everything happening now is all the fault of the Iraqis.

UPDATE II: As Mona at Inactivist astutely notes, National Review's Michael Ledeen -- one of the blame-shifting neocons quoted in the Vanity Fair article -- has the audacity to claim today in the Corner that he "opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place," even though he wrote an August, 2002 National Review article advocating the war in Iraq:

It's always reassuring to hear Brent Scowcroft attack one's cherished convictions; it makes one cherish them all the more. . . . So it's good news when Scowcroft comes out against the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters. As usual, Scowcroft has it backwards.

In the same article, Ledeen mocks Scowcroft for worrying that an invasion of Iraq "could turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror." Ledeen scoffed: "One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today."

As Mona asks: "You got your cauldron, Mike. Happy now?" Apparently not, since he's now falsely denying that he ever supported the war.

UPDATE III: More on Ledeen's lying, and what can (and, in my view, should) be done about it -- here.

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