The fact that Makiya still believes in an argument for regime change is almost admirable, considering that most everyone else has since bailed. "I don't support or excuse everything that has happened since the start of the war," Makiya tells me. "But the justness of the war doesn't change because it doesn't turn out the way we thought it would."Makiya's right: the justness of the war wouldn't have changed if Iraq had turned out to be filled with pro-American, pro-Israeli puppies and rainbows. Because that was never going to happen, outside of Makiya's fevered imaginations, we don't really need to bother contemplating whether that war would have been worthwhile. But even if it had turned out much worse than Makiya publicly said it would in 2002-2003, it still couldn't have justified the invasion.
"You have to hold two separate things," he says, reaching his hands out in the air as he tries to explain his position. "There is a distinction between the reasons for the war and the aftermath and what went wrong. An apology requires that you blur those distinctions. The moment you do that, you stop thinking. Can I apologize for removing one of the worst dictators of the twentieth century? I would not think of it."
Makiya through his support -- his extremely influential support, it turns out -- behind an incompetently waged war that succeeded only in destroying his homeland, expelling 4 million refugees and counting, with probably on the order of a million dead by now. But he still can't seem to deal with the fact that, in a fundamental sense, he's not an Iraqi anymore:
"Of course I still support the war," he says with a pained expression on his face. "How can I not? I don't know an Iraqi who doesn't."I think Makiya's probably being honest here. Thing is, I also think that Makiya doesn't know an Iraqi who is currently living in Iraq. Call me uncharitable if you will, but when public opinion polls overwhelmingly show that most Iraqis think they were better off before the invasion, Makiya must move in a pretty rarefied circle of friends.