Brent Stephens is bragging in the WSJ about winning a bet on the Iraq War. Apparently he made a $100 bet with Francis Fukuyama in May 2003 after the recoverning neocon — who was for the war before he was against it — predicted that the war “would be a mess five years after the invasion, the definition of a mess being ‘you’d know one if you saw it.'” It seems that Fukuyama thinks that war is not “a mess” this month. But Stephens, the winner of the $100 is certain that “the war in Iraq is over. We’ve won.”
I’ve explained why I don’t buy that. Stephens provides us with a “partial list” of the reasons of why “Iraq looks like a winner”
Saddam is dead. Had he remained in power, we would likely still believe he had WMD. He would have been sitting on an oil bonanza priced at $140 a barrel. He would almost certainly have broken free from an already crumbling sanctions regime. The U.S. would be faced with not one, but two, major adversaries in the Persian Gulf. Iraqis would be living under a regime that, in an average year, was at least as murderous as the sectarian violence that followed its collapse. And the U.S. would have seemed powerless to shape events.
So let me see if I get the Stephens’ logic here. “We” had wrongly believed that Saddam possessed WMD — which was a reason why most Americans backed the decision to invade Iraq. So we invaded Iraq and found out that Saddam didn’t have WMD. Doesn’t that smash to pieces the main rationale for going to war and makes “us” look stupid since we did believe that Saddam had WMD? No. By invading Iraq and finding out that Saddam didn’t have WMD we are not holding anymore to the wrong belief that Saddam still has WMD — which he never had. Well, something like that.
Based on logic we should attack Iran since “we” believe it is developing WMD. “We” could be wrong. But at least if “we” discover that “we” were wrong “we” won’t have to be wrong anymore.