Saturday, January 13, 2007

Another Conservative Gets Honest With Himself

It was obvious to me long before the war that a) Bush and his allies were trumping up the case against Saddam because they wanted to kick some Arab ass post-9/11 and b) were NOT going to send in enough force to ACTUALLY kick Arab ass and/or effectively occupy a country and handle a potential insurgency.

Others on the left, including Al Gore, saw the same thing.

I have long said that if this war were being carried out by a Democratic administration, the conservative pundits and politicians would be going apeshit over the various lies, deceptions, cronyism, corruption, massive miscalculations, and total screw-ups this administration has engaged in while carrying out their war policy.

Yet few conservatives or Republicans, even the ones with misgivings over the war, were willing to criticize the plan beforehand.

Pat Buchanan was one such conservative who went on record before the war as an unequivocal opponent.

I cannot think of any other.

A few conservatives jumped ship soon after the war started when it became clear that a) the administration had ginned up the case for war and b) they had no clear idea how to fight it.

Andrew Sullivan was one such conservative.

But most right-wingers continued to support their preznut (especially because a presidential election was coming and to criticize the preznut at that time would be seen as betrayal of the highest order - i.e., Reagan's directive - DO NOT CRITCIZE A FELLOW REPUB.)

Four years later, as the extent of the "horrendous blunder" that is the administration's war policy becomes clear and the extent of incompetence, duplicity and stupidity with which the administration has pursued their war policy becomes even clearer, more and more Republicans and conservatives have been jumping ship.

Rod Dreher is the latest:

As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.

But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.

I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.

I did not expect Vietnam.

As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.

I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.

I supported the war in Afghanistan. I couldn't understand why Bush was expanding the war to Iraq when it was clear to me that Saddam had had nothing to do with 9/11. I was skeptical about the administration's reasons for going to war with Iraq. I didn't think the possible outcomes made the risks worthwhile. Plus the war felt like Junior trying to show Daddy how to do it.

I don't think my stance on the two wars makes me a "hippie" in any sense of the word (and btw, I am the EXACT same age as Dreher and share many of his political experiences - the Iran hostage crisis was also my "first real political memory".)

I am glad that Dreher now shares my skepticism of the president and his generals.

And that means being as skeptical of the motivations and policies of the guys you vote for as much as you are of the guys you oppose (or in Bush's case, despise.)

I was very skeptical of Clinton even though I voted for him twice. Somalia seemed like a mess about to happen (as many conservatives pointed out at the time) and sure enough, it became a mini-mess.

But nothing Clinton did comes even close to the scale of the fuck-up that is Bush's Iraq war. Dreher says the ramifications of the Iraq blunder pale compared to anything that even Carter created with his ineptitude and weakness.

I would agree with that.

My hope has always been that people would learn from the Iraq mistake.

Many on the right have not. Witness last May's Iraq war resolution that was used as a political bludgeon against critics of the war (i.e., pussy Dems.)

But some have learned. Joe Scarborough is off the bandwagon. Now Rod Dreher. Andrew Sullivan has long been off it.

With a little luck and some deep soul-searching, perhaps these conservative critics of the war policy will speak up the next time a president of their own party wants to gin up reasons for a war of choice and manipulate the American public into going along with it.

Kinda the way Pat Buchanan did BEFORE the Iraq war started.

Partisanship over an issue like war is nuts. It's crips vs. bloods mentality.
And yet, it's still there. Last May's vote on the war was pure partisanship and pure theater. The idiots on CNN still shape the debate as left vs. right. Andrea Mitchell from NBC stated the debate that way on the Chris Matthews Show this morning until Tweety corrected her and said "it's not a leftist position to be against this war. 65% of the country is against the war."
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