Kevin Drum On Iraq War

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His words. My thoughts.

In other words, democracy is nice â€â€? eventually â€â€? but the bigger issue is kicking over the status quo in the Middle East and forcing change. And the hawks would argue that this is happening. Slowly and fitfully, to be sure, but let’s count up the successes so far: Iraq and Afghanistan are better off than before, Libya has given up its nuke program, Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution is a sign of progress, Egypt has held a more open election than any before it, and the Syrian regime is under considerable pressure.

Did the invasion of Iraq precipitate these changes? I think the hawks considerably overstate their case, but at the same time they do have a case. Even if Iraq is a mess, it might all be worthwhile if it eventually produces progress toward a more open, more liberal Middle East. At the very least, it’s an argument that needs to be engaged.

I supported going into Afghanistan. I think all but maybe 14 or 15 people in this country supported that, though.

But when Bush and Co. tried to convince me that Iraq was a clear and present danger, I just didn’t bite. Why? Because it didn’t make sense to me. The evidence seemed flimsy and the other reasons didn’t seem special. See, I knew about the torture, and I knew about the other things Saddam had done, but those same things were happening all over the world.

Sure, after the fact it feels justified because we overthrew a ruthless, murderous dictator. And honestly, who’s really going to answer yes to the loaded question, “Would you rather have Saddam still in power?”

But that’s not the question we should be asking, and everybody knows it. The question we should be asking is, “How do we defeat Al Qaeda?” That’s something that really hasn’t been effectively answered for me, especially when we see thousands of people streaming across our borders every single day. I mean, come on people. Are we really doing everything we can? Hardly.

I guess Kevin talks for those of us on the left who are stuck in awkward position. Yes, Iraq is better off without Saddam. Yes, it may ultimately be worth it? Yes, we think there could have been better uses of our time, money and credibility.

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