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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

Nobody is safe! Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh reviews the pre- and post-Iraq attitudes of some prominent opinionists:

If President Bush’s re-election demonstrated wide support for his “forward strategy of freedom�?—the aggressive region-building scheme embodied in the Iraq war—you never would have known it from the people who took that strategy most seriously and argued most eloquently for it.

Cavanaugh then launches into Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, Fred Kaplan, Kenneth Pollack, Fareed Zakaria, Jeff Jarvis, Andrew Sullivan, and Michael Ignatieff. You may disagree with much of Cavanaugh’s analysis – I do – but his eloquently brutal conclusion is irresistible:

Perhaps in their ideal world, where President Kerry and Secretary of State Biden run the show, such precision is possible. In the event, they must now either admit they were wrong or stick with the war Bush delivered for them. If it succeeds, perhaps they’ll take some of the credit. They’ve already shown they won’t take any of the blame.

Reactions from those mentioned above will be lively. Maybe they should be posted here.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/27/2005 at 09:20 AM
    1. Hard to get past Cavanaugh’s meticulous garbling of all the key facts, though his comments on the named pundits are probably insightful and accurate.  He actually repeats the dead-on-arrival distortion of “immediate threat” (usually packaged as “imminent” threat).  He completely misunderstands the WMD issue (without which there’s not much chance of understanding the reasons for the Iraq war). He gets the al-Qaeda argument wrong (as well as the facts).

      I don’t want to single out Cavanaugh—there’s something peculiar about Iraq that prevents large numbers of smart people from thinking straight, or getting their premises right.  This is such a dominant problem that it’s fair to say in the last two years there’s actually been very little real debate over Iraq, but mostly an interminable cycle of misstated facts and premises and flawed reasoning on one side, and (much quieter and rarer) corrections of the foregoing on the other.  Not really a substantive discussion.

      There’s no either/or, and fallaciously assuming there is the root of much of the problem.  The WMD issue, properly understood in the context of global terror and Iraqi capacity, behavior pattern, malevolence, and particular vulnerability, was the driving cause that meant war in 2003.  But spend a few hours at Checkpoint 3 helping check Iraqis into the zone for election-related activities, and talk with them, and you’ll see there’s a lot more going on now.

      Misinformed by the mainstream press and further (for the most part) misled by clueless pundits, it’ll be a wonder when western societies mark their triumph over nihilistic islamo-fascist terror, which they will ….

      Posted by IceCold on 01/27 at 10:46 AM • permalink


    1. I really used to like Andrew, before he went to his all torture/all the time format.

      Posted by BruceW on 01/27 at 10:50 AM • permalink


    1. “If it succeeds, perhaps they’ll take some of the credit.”

      You bet they will.  They’ll also claim “if you’d have listened to us, it would have worked out even better!!” Just like they do with Reagan’s legacy.

      Posted by Phil Smith on 01/27 at 04:03 PM • permalink


    1. Right after I contributed to Andrew’s site (within fifteen minutes, I swear!) he had launched into an endless string of tirades about the Catholic Church and gay marriage, leaving me both bored and disillusioned. The last straw was his awful endorsement of John Kerry and the verbal acrobatics he went through to justify it.

      You would never do a bait-and-switch like that on me, would you Tim?

      Posted by Butch on 01/27 at 05:48 PM • permalink


    1. The Americans were criticised for being late into both the first and second World Wars. Better late than never!
      Didn’t happen this time. But better stick to it, and don’t let Korea or Vietnam be the template this time.

      Posted by blogstrop on 01/28 at 07:00 AM • permalink


  1. So I guess it’s implied that anyone who STILL supports Bush’s foreign policy just isn’t as eloquent or serious as … er … Andrew Sullivan.

    Yeah.  Right.  Okaaaaay, Mr. Cavanaugh.

    Posted by Sortelli on 01/28 at 08:17 PM • permalink