Goldberg's Specious Iraq War Argument
Poor Jonah Goldberg has a problem. He was a supporter of Bush's war in Iraq but wants to change positions -- sort of. He begins his op-ed piece saying "The Iraq war was a mistake." He then lambastes those who have been saying this for a long time because he doesn't want to admit that they were right all along. I won't bother you with the argument since it isn't worth the time anyway.
As I said, he begins by saying that the war was a mistake. Note the past tense. He doesn't say that the Iraq war, as presently constituted, IS a mistake. In fact, he doesn't seem to think that it is. And, interestingly, he takes the position that if we do the right things, "the war won’t be remembered as a mistake." That is a very neat trick.
Though the war was a mistake, Goldberg's view seems to be that Bush's blunders have turned the war into a good war. How is that possible? Goldberg says:
Those who say it’s not the central front in the war on terror are in a worse state of denial than they think Bush is in. Of course it’s the central front. That it has become so is a valid criticism of Bush, but it’s also strong reason for seeing things through. If we pull out precipitously, jihadism will open a franchise in Iraq and gain steam around the world, and the United States will be weakened.So, Goldberg's position is that the Iraq war, which was a mistake, can be turned into a war that is remembered as not being a mistake because Bush's blunders have raised the stakes in such a way that a victory there would be a very good thing. So, it seems, that two wrongs -- getting into the war in the first place and then making numerous post-combat blunders can be turned into a right.
Goldberg claims that there are not just two positions -- leaving and staying -- but a third. What is that? Well, it is staying. What makes Goldberg's staying somehow different from this other kind of staying is that he proposes that there be an election in Iraq as to whether or not we should stay? This may be the silliest idea I have read in connection with defenses of Bush's "stay the course" position. Someone needs to tell Goldberg that there is an Iraqi government that the people voted into existence. Why isn't it good enough for him that they ask us to stay? Could it be that Goldberg doesn't believe that this is a legitimate Iraqi government?
Bush has created a "lose - lose" situation in Iraq. If we stay we keep losing American troops and losing our credibility around the world as an effective military power against irregular military forces such as the rogue Sunnis and the outsiders who wish to destroy the current government and kill as many Americans as they can. If we leave, we lose credibility around the world as an effective military power against irregular military forces.
There is leaving and staying. For those who want us to stay the only question is how should we go about it? Stay with the course Bush and Rumsfeld have set or adopt some new course? I would be for the latter if a good changed course could be devised. I don't think that is possible.