mwAfter reading many Iraq anniversary posts and watching the truly excellent but really depressing Frontline documentary “Bush’s War” (highly recommended), I decided to post a personal retrospective tracking my own evolving views on the war over the last five years. It was also time to update my post of a year ago “It’s the war, stupid.” In 2002 I was among the 70% leading the cheers. By 2006 I was among the 70% against. The post is long, so I’ll just excerpt it here –

This is how the post starts…
Two grim milestones over the last week – a five year anniversary and 4,000 American lives. I have been reading through a variety of posts, articles and essays marking the anniversary and analyzing how we got here. Since 70% of Americans supported the war, many of us have reason to reflect on our personal acquiescence in the decision to invade and occupy Iraq.

John Cole simply presents an unvarnished litany of what he got wrong saying “…you get the point. I was wrong about EVERY. GOD. D*MNED. THING. It is amazing I could tie my shoes in 2001-2004.” Most notable in this theme is the Slate compilation of “liberal hawks” recalling their support and asking the question Why did we get it wrong? Andrew Sullivan participated and explained his high visibility support of the war. Blogenfreude calls the series a “wankfest” and at his Cynics Party cross-post a commenter called the series an exercise in “armpit sniffing” [NOTE: last two links are rated “R” for strong language]. Hard to argue with either assessment. Glenn Greenwald notes “…not a single one of them appears to have learned the real lesson worth learning from the whole disaster”, while also noting that not everyone got it wrong in 2003.

There is no need for me to wonder or speculate about how I felt about the war five, four, three or two years ago. I left a digital trail…

This is how the post ends…
Now, I am coming to the conclusion that there is a lot less than meets the eye as far as any practical differences in the Iraq policy of the three major candidates remaining. We know we have to significantly reduce our military presence in Iraq. We just can’t afford it. The military is stretched to the breaking point. A large majority of Americans think it was a mistake to go in and want us out. Regardless of who wins the election, within two years of a new president taking office our military presence in Iraq is going to be down 65% from where it is now – plus or minus 15%. And that plus or minus – that is the sum total of the practical difference between the three candidates. But… and it is a big “but” … McCain is “leaning in”, and both Obama and Clinton are “leaning out.”

All I wanted out of this election was an anti-war fiscal conservative in the finals, preferably a Republican or Independent in order to maintain divided government into 2009. I was pushing Chuck Hagel until he flaked out, which left me with Ron Paul by default, but I really hoped Bloomberg would drag Hagel back in. When Bloomberg went back to counting his money (I understand he is also involved in a local government on the East coast somewhere) that hope died.

So I find myself impaled on the horns of a dilemma.

The choice now:

  • RED PILL – Divided Government (good) but Permanent War (bad)
– or –
  • BLUE PILL – Single Party Democratic government (bad) with expanded majorities, possibly a filibuster proof Senate (really bad) and either Clinton or Obama at the controls of a Cheney designed unitary presidency (really really bad).

Pick your poison.

Yeah, yeah, I know – The Democratic party intentions are good. But the unintended consequences of single party government are going to be brutal, as it always is.

And if you want to read the long missing bit in the middle…

You’ll find it cross-posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall.

Home Politics It’s still the war, stupid.