A lot of far right neocon leaders and pundits have come under a huge amount of criticism lately as a segment of the media has gone back to them for their analysis on what to do about the outbreak of expansive fighting in Iraq, despite having been so disastrously wrong in their analysis about going into Iraq in the first place -- saying things like how the America will be viewed as liberators, how there's no history of fighting between Sunnis and Shias, that fighting will only last weeks and not even months, it will only cost in the 10s of billions of dollars, how the U.S. will be met with flowers and candy, and on and on and on and on...
Among the criticism, there have even been calls for apologies. Not that I'm sure anyone really expected apologies from this "Double Down" segment of society which tends to be so swaggeringly proud when caught saying something most humane and sentient beings would cringe into a ball over while running around to everyone they could possibly meet to say how sorry they were and beg forgiveness. But still, asking them is always a good thing, if only to be polite because you'd like to give them the chance.
"The only thing I'd like to hear from Iraq War architects is an apology," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wrote, for example.
William Kristol, the noted far right neocon "chickenhawk" pundit who seemingly never met a war he didn't like without having to actually fight in one himself -- and one of the most vocal on the far right pushing for a war in Iraq, as this detailed article on Reason.com quotes him repeatedly and at length -- was asked about this on CNN about such calls for apology. His answer?
"I'm not apologizing for something that I think was not wrong. The war to remove Saddam was the right thing and necessary thing to do."
Okay, now seriously, did you expect William Kristol to say anything differently?
After all, this is the man who had earlier said -- among his many analytical pronouncements -- "A friendly, free, and oil-producing Iraq would leave Iran isolated. I think Syria would be cowed. The Palestinians would, I think, be more willing to negotiate seriously with Israel after this evidence of American willingness to exert influence in the region. Saudi Arabia would have much less leverage,"
And after all, all of that proved to be so spot-on, he nailed it, impressively right! (As in "far right"...) After all, in the 11 years since the Iraq War began, hasn't Iraq become so much more isolated than ever in the region -- except for the part where the U.S. is considering asking them for their help as the only power in the region strong enough to help resolve the fighting. (One may disagree with that strategy or not, but the point is that Iraq is still massively strong in the Middle East and far from "more isolated.") And Syria is oh-so-cowed to the extent of the resurgence of fighting and Civil War that turned into a world crisis. No doubt you've all seen Israel and Palestine hugging one another in beautiful peace and harmony, and Saudi Arabia has faded deep into the background to the point that you almost can't spot them on a map anymore, which is why gas prices have plummeted.
(And let's not overlook Mr. Kristol almost-hidden comment about "oil-producing Iraq," letting what's probably his main interests bubble to the surface, since I thought this was about retribution for non-substantiated attacks against us, or restoring democracy, or getting rid of terrorists, or taking Saddam Hussein out of power, or whichever Reason of the Day the far right came up with whenever one of their other reasons was shown to be invalid...)
With such wrong-headed analysis as that (and it's only one of many of his quotes on Iraq), why in the world would he want to apologize and risk breaking his streak for being wrong?!
The thing is, it's not so much that Mr. Kristol was SO wrong about Iraq back then in the first place that he shouldn't be invited onto television to be about the country now -- although that's plenty enough good reason --
it's that he's SO wrong about Iraq now.
I mean, seriously. Look at his words now. "I'm not apologizing for something I think was not wrong. The war to remove Saddam was the right thing and necessary thing to do." That's not 11 years ago before the war. That's today.
Is that who you'd want on your TV news show analyzing what to do about Iraq. After 11 years of 4,400 American deaths, $2.2 trillion spent and a destabilized region -- William Kristol has not taken the decade-long opportunity to reflect and come to the realization that the Iraq War was a disaster. If that's how he feels now, why on earth would anyone of basic, core sense want him telling the nation what to do still? Unless of course you like having a human bunching bag on your show.
I'm sure that there are people who agree with William Kristol. But let's see a show of hands. At its peak, 75 percent of Americans thought fighting in Iraq was a good thing. But back in 2008, as the war was dragging on tragically and endlessly, that number of support plummeted to 36 percent. Last year, with America pulling out of the country and with the end in sight so that the public could look back with relief that far fewer American dead were being sent back home and money spent was dwindling, that number still only rose to just 42 percent, almost half as much initially. And instead of the initial 20 percent of Americans who thought going to war in Iraq was a mistake, that number is not 53 percent.
William Kristol was dead wrong before the Iraq War. But people do mistakes. We all do. When you keep defending your mistake after 11 years so draining results to the contrary, that's another matter. It's not that Bill Kristol was wrong 11 years ago. It's that he's still wrong today. About the same things. And double-down.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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