One mistake should not condemn someone to silence, but we are not talking about just any old mistake. The Iraq War was one of the biggest and costliest blunders in the history of U.S. foreign relations. The human and material costs, including an ultimate fiscal and economic toll in the multiple trillions in addition to the political and diplomatic damage, have been immense. Moreover, promotion of that war demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of fault lines in the Middle East, political culture in the region, the nature of political change there, the roots of enmity and security threats toward the United States, and the limitations of U.S. power and especially military power. There is no reason anyone should pay one iota of attention to what the promoters of that war have to say today on anything related to those subjects. And yet those are the very sorts of subjects, often with particular reference to countries such as Iran, Syria and Libya, on which neocon promoters of the Iraq War expound today.
In some other political system, anyone who had been involved in an official capacity in promoting that war might, after resigning in disgrace, retire from public affairs to tend a garden, write fiction, or make money in private business. But somehow that has not happened with many of the people concerned in this instance.
It is a remarkable thing, when you think about it. There has been no reckoning in Republican ranks. None. As Pillar says:
Then there are the conscious efforts to get Americans to forget about certain recent past experiences including the Iraq War. The war is one of two big things—the origin of the Great Recession being the other—that have led George W. Bush’s own party to regard him during the current election campaign as He Who Must Not Be Named.
As things heat up in the Mideast, is it really the case that we want this crowd back in the saddle advising the US president how to conduct foreign policy? That’s not even a question for me. The question for me is: do I oppose that more than I oppose President Obama running social policy and appointing Supreme Court justices for the next four years?
I don’t know. I go back and forth. As much damage as Obama can do to the causes that mean the most to me, another Republican-led war could be disastrous for the country — and the effects of that disaster would last for many, many years. And, the fact that there has been no reckoning at all in GOP and mainstream conservative circles for the twin disasters of Bush war policy and economic policy makes it hard for me to give a GOP presidential candidate a vote of confidence. One thing that made me a conservative back in my college days was my conviction that the conservatives believed in personal responsibility and accountability, not in blaming society. That is no longer true, apparently. I guess the GOP is now the “hey, s*it happens” party.
Let me hear from fellow social and cultural conservatives who also share my deep misgivings about Romney’s foreign policy circle. What do you all think?
(H/T: James Fallows.)