Wow. I was so overwhelmed and lulled into a placid state by the kind comments in response to my Sunday column that I didn’t notice until just now that this debate was still going on (and this one, too, in a related vein).
Rather than continue to jump in with my answers and asides in the comments stream, I’m going to respond to a couple of my correspondents with this new posting — largely because I still haven’t mastered a way to insert links, much less files, conveniently into the comments format. I continue to admire those savvy folk who have figured it out.
Anyway, Portia said I had explained my lack of military service — one of the great regrets, or perhaps I should say gripes (since it wasn’t my choice), of my life — in a recent column, but she couldn’t get to it to provide a link. I’ve mentioned it more than once, but I have a feeling that this is the one to which she refers. If not, I’ll go back and look for another one.
Also, the link that Mike C provided was interesting, and I recommend it (although I got lost in exactly what the late William Jennings Bryan Dorn‘s namesake was urging Woodrow Wilson to do; I really need to bone up on that period). But I bring it up here because its title, and this passage …
The profound interpretation recognizes that if there is an invasion the decision for it and for its sweeping historical consequences will be in the hands of one man, The President of the United States, and that he – and he alone – must take complete moral responsibility for this massive intervention in the fate of our species. And this fact is conveyed in the title of Mr. Hammerschlag’s article: it will forever be Bush’s War, no matter what the outcome.
… reminded me of an older column of mine (and here’s where I really had to go to a posting rather than a comment, since I had to attach a Word file, that piece no longer being online).
Oh, and in answer to "Amos Nunoy‘s" last question, namely, "Did you know it wasn’t about mass weapons the whole time? You didn’t say," I most certainly did NOT write "Hey, there’s no WMD." Why? Because I thought, like everyone else, that Saddam had at least one variety of WMD (he had used it in the past, after all), and was working feverishly to develop others. In fact, we mentioned it editorially among the reasons to invade at the time — partly because that cause was more important to others on our editorial board than it was to me, but also because it WAS part of the argument. It just wasn’t what was important to me, and would not have been reason enough alone to justify invasion in MY mind. You can tell this by what I did stress at the time, such as (at least in passing) in the column linked in the paragraph above. Or, more to the point, this one. In fact, the latter is worth quoting here, in case you have trouble calling up that old file:
The answer to all of the above is: Sept. 11.
Before that, U.S. policy-makers didn’t want to destabilize the status quo in the Mideast. What we learned on Sept. 11 is that the status quo in the region is unacceptable. It must change.
Change has to start somewhere, and Iraq is the best place to insert the lever, for several reasons – geography, culture, demographics, but most of all because Saddam Hussein has given us all the justification we need to go in and take him out: We stopped shooting in 1991 because he agreed to certain terms, and he has repeatedly thumbed his nose at those agreements.
Iraq may not be the best place in the world to try to nurture a liberal democracy, but it’s the best shot we have in the Mideast.
That was written, by the way, the month before the 2003 invasion. You’ll notice, "Amos," that while I didn’t specifically mention WMD (because, once again, I thought that threat, while insufficient, was real) I DID say that the president, for Realpolitik reasons, wasn’t frankly stating exactly WHY we had to go into Iraq — or at least, wasn’t stressing it enough to suit me. That’s why that column was headlined, "The uncomfortable truth about why we may have to invade Iraq." I thought it was important to state those reasons more prominently beforehand, so I did.