One hears so much Michael Moore-ish views on the War in Iraq that one almost starts to think that the entire Left actually believes it is all a war-mongering oil conspiracy that has nothing to do with freedom or democracy. I will admit that before the war, I fully supported the invasion based on the threat of WMD. With the clarity of hindsight, I agree that the Administration rushed in–but I can say that with hindsight, which is of course, 20/20–and can we really judge Bush and his decision based on our perception of things after the fact?
A thinker of the left, Larry Diamond gives a very reasonable explanation of his view of the rush to war and the war itself–and it doesn’t even sound like he has rabies:
I opposed going to war in Iraq last year. Indeed, I publicly warned (in the January 2003 Hoover Digest) that the greatest danger facing the United States was not Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs but “imperial overreach and the global wave of anti-Americanism that it is already provoking.” I worried that the United States would be perceived throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds as invading Iraq only because it wanted to control its oil and dominate the region. I felt that Americans would pay a heavy price for going to war without “compelling evidence that Saddam’s regime has flouted its obligations to disarm” and without broad international support. And I counseled against an “extended, unilateral American military occupation of Iraq” that would “turn American soldiers from liberators to occupiers.”
Still, I reject the characterization of the war as “imperialist aggression.” The Bush administration was convinced that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that if it did not take military action soon, Saddam would break out of the international sanctions box and once again threaten the region and the United States. I think the administration was wrong in its rush to war. The error is even more starkly apparent today, as Iran races to develop nuclear weapons while the United States remains bogged down in Iraq, with no evidence of Saddam’s WMD. But there is a difference between strategic error and “imperialist aggression” in order “to control the entire Middle East” and “to dominate the international oil market.” A scholar of Smith’s stature should provide evidence for such a grave and provocative allegation. That these wild charges are pervasively believed in the Middle East [and by Michael Moore and his ilk] should sober us, but it does not make them true. (Foreign Affairs, November/December 2004, p. 131.)
It was truly refreshing to read this in the pages of Foreign Affairs. Diamond goes on to say something that speaks to the shocking schadenfreude that oozes out of every European newspaper on a daily basis and which truly seems to immerse the American left as well in their eagerness to oust Bush, a man they hate with irrational fervor. Diamond states that, even as someone who leans left,
If the war was a strategic mistake, it still opened the possibility for historic political progress in Iraq. And if the Bush administration bungled the postwar planning and management, as I believe it did, this did not preclude significant improvements and a more positive outcome down the road. I therefore do not regard my service in Iraq as a “fool’s errand.” Nor do I believe that the thousands of brave and dedicated individuals working for the United States, other coalition allies, the UN, and a myriad of democracy-and development-promoting NGOs are tools or fools, tilting at windmills.
Believe me, I am uncomfortable with Bush’s foreign policy and wish that he had not alienated out closest allies (besides the UK). I supported Kerry’s effort to bring a multi-lateral view back onto the table. But Diamond’s words are measured and rational. They are a model for the left. Somehow, I doubt many will follow.