The Washington Post thinks it’s time to “take stock” of America’s involvement in the war in Iraq. With tomorrow as the four year anniversary of the invasion, some might think that it’s long past time. Nevertheless, the Post is offering their ruminations in an editorial called, Lessons of War. It doesn’t take long for them to prove that they haven’t learned very much. They begin by soft-peddling the Bush administration’s culpability for the worst foreign policy in this country’s history:
“The easy way out is to blame President Bush, Vice President Cheney or former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld: The decision was right, the execution wrong. There’s no question that the execution was disastrous. Having rolled the dice on what everyone understood to be an enormous gamble, Mr. Bush and his team followed up with breathtaking and infuriating arrogance, ignorance and insouciance.”
The decision was “right?” Can they really still believe that in light of the fact that all of the reasons that led to the decision were shown to be false? There was no imminent threat, there were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no connection to Al Qaeda or 9/11. It’s nice see the Post acknowledge the failure of the execution, but they have learned nothing if they think that the decision was right. And their assertion that everyone understood the “enormous gamble,” of the undertaking conveniently ignores all of the reassurances that the invasion would be a cakewalk and that Americans would be greeted as liberators.
Yet despite all of this and BushCo’s “infuriating arrogance, ignorance and insouciance,” the Post wants us to be careful about taking the “easy way out” by holding the President and his team accountable. They even suggest that the chaos and misery may have been inevitable:
“But the war might have spun out of control even under wiser leadership.”
Of course, under wiser leadership, we would not have gone to war in the first place. One must wonder what the Post considers wise leadership. They also appear to have a decidedly different view of comfort than would most folks:
“It would almost be comforting if Mr. Bush had ‘lied the nation into war,’ as is frequently charged. The best postwar journalism instead suggests that the president and his administration exaggerated, cherry-picked and simplified but fundamentally believed — as did the CIA — the catastrophically wrong case that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented to the United Nations.”
I can’t think of anyone who would gain comfort from having the President lie to them. But if they would, they got their wish, because exaggeration, cherry-picking and simplification is the equivalent of lying if the intent is to mislead a nation into an unjustified war of aggression. And if stories reporting that the administration “fundamentally believed” the case with which Secretary Powell was saddled represent the best of postwar journalism, that’s more an indictment of journalism than a defense of the President.
The Post editorial concludes with an admission that they have been poor students:
“Unfortunately, none of this provides bright guidelines to make the next decisions easier.”
Then why did they print a headline above the column that says, “Lessons of War?” There is much to learn from the past four years of disastrous mistakes and dishonesty. Although the Post may not have learned anything, the people, who are overwhelmingly opposed to, and disgusted by, this war, have graduated ahead of the media class. And there is nothing in the curriculum that supports the Post’s conclusion that…
“A patient, sustained U.S. commitment, with gradually diminishing military forces, could still help Iraq to move in the right direction.”
The American people have run out of patience. What patience remains does not deserve to be wasted on a president and a policy that has been so wrong and so costly in both lives and resources. The Post, for its part, may want to consider enrolling in a remedial studies class, because the lessons of this war seemed to have been entirely lost to them