Ever since Iraq's remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it. Conservatives don't want to talk about it because, with a few exceptions, they think their job is just to applaud whatever the Bush team does. Liberals don't want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don't want the Bush team to succeed. As a result, Iraq is drifting sideways and the whole burden is being carried by our military. The rest of the country has gone shopping, which seems to suit Karl Rove just fine.First off, one wonders how many Liberals Friedman talked to in coming to this conclusion. 1? 2? A whole 3? Because I find it hard to believe that he talked to more than 3 leftists who wished Bush to fail - hell, even I wanted Bush to succeed, in that I didn't want 1,600 young Americans dead, nor did I want tens of thousands of dead, uncounted Iraqis.
Secondly, on what planet is Democrat's continuing insistence that "the war was wrong" even remotely comparable to the obscene sight of Congressional Republicans continually pretending that if we just clap harder, things will turn around? If we had followed the anti-war Democrats (all two of them), yes, Saddam would still be in power - but many more people would be alive today. Meanwhile, Saddam would endanger exactly no one outside his own borders - and even people in the north and south of Iraq would still be relatively autonomous. Tens of thousands of people would be alive today, if only we hadn't followed the culture of lifers.
The most common reply to this pessimism on my part is something along the lines of "something had to be done" about Saddam, WMDs, etc. Again, I am sympathetic. But there are two questions we should ask - can we do something productive, and is it worth the cost? For it to be worthwhile, both of those answers must be "yes". We have to be able to accomplish something meaningful at reasonable cost - anything else simply leads to disaster, as we've seen.
The anti-war crowd understood that Bush was, at best, attempting the impossible - especially when he announced that the new reason was to "free Iraq". Worse, it became clear by late 2002 that Bush was attempting the impossible on a budget - coupon-clipping our way to victory. Discount disaster, body armour not included.
Sadly, I had no confidence that Bush and his coterie would provide positive answers for either of those questions. When it comes time for history to judge, I'm willing to bet that my judgement will be proven correct. Bush has accomplished nothing of positive substance in Iraq, and it can hardly be considered worth the cost, regardless of how you're counting.