Revisiting Iraq, and Rooting For Bush (Stuart Taylor Jr., 03-12-2005, National Journal)

I was guardedly in favor of invading Iraq, because I believed our president’s confident claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and his collaboration with Al Qaeda.

As time passed, I came to fear that the invasion had probably been a disastrous mistake — perhaps the worst by any president in my lifetime.

That was after the WMD and the supposed Qaeda alliance turned out to be intelligence-agency fantasies grossly exaggerated by President Bush and his aides. And after the occupation turned into a blood-soaked disaster. And after many Iraqis who had initially greeted us as liberators switched to wanting us out, or dead. And after the Abu Ghraib photos. And after anti-Americanism soared to unprecedented levels around the world. And after experts confidently assured me that Iraq was doomed to civil war and chaos and would become a haven for terrorists.

I descended into dismay about Bush and his top people. I was driven deeper into it by administration claims of war-on-terrorism presidential powers that can only be called tyrannical: to seize anyone in the world, anywhere in the world; to imprison and interrogate the suspect indefinitely, incommunicado, with no semblance of due process; even (if the president chooses) to torture him. Not to mention Bush’s feckless failure to prevent North Korea from going nuclear, the Guantanamo abuses, the disdain for diplomacy, the irresponsible approach to global warming, the fiscal recklessness, the shifting of tax burdens from the rich to future generations, the swaggering refusal to ever admit error, the smirk, and more.

Now, though, I am rooting for Bush to go down in history as a great president. […]

How can we not root for Bush to win this campaign for Arab democracy, even if his chances still seem no better than even? And while celebrations are premature, shouldn’t we sometime Bush-bashers — and even the full-time Bush-haters — be prepared to give great credit to him and his neocons, if and when it becomes clear that they have engineered a historic breakthrough?

Mr. Taylor is one of that sadly mere handful of folks who make up the Decent Left, those capable of looking past personalities and ideologies to what is best for the country and the world and, more imprtantly, recognizing that sometimes it’s the other side that knows best.

Who else could we add to this list (allowing considerable leeway)?:


Robert Samuelson

AS REGARDS THE EXTENSION OF LIBERTY GLOBALLY (in other words, not in domestic affairs):

Michael Walzer
Michael Ignatieff
Paul Berman
Christopher Hitchens

Who else?


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