Mr. Podhoretz is having none of it. “I always knew they didn’t like this policy, the Bush doctrine,” he says, speaking of increasingly vocal antagonists like George Will and William F. Buckley. “They had doubts about it going in, and not just because it violates in their view conservative principles but, you know, it’s hubris, it’s Wilsonianism, it goes beyond the limits of power, it’s nation-building, and so on. But for reasons of solidarity or because they were not willing to join with the left or the far reaches of the Buchananite right, they were careful, they voiced their doubts only through hints or veiled asides. So when they came, so to speak, out of the antiwar closet, I certainly was not all that surprised.
“They’ve declared defeat, basically,” he continues. “What can I say? I think they’re wrong. I think Iraq has gone not badly but well, is not a disaster or a crime or a delusion, but what’s more is a noble, necessary effort.” ~Norman Podhoretz in OpinionJournal.com
Against such disastrous delusion, what is there left to say? What do you say to someone who views the disintegration of a country and the ruination of its future as something that is “going not badly but well”? Perhaps Mr. Olmert will say, “I think the campaign in Lebanon is going not badly but well.” But of course the triumph of freedom is assured (History tells us so!), and neocons don’t exist anyway, so why worry?
As someone on the “far reaches of the Buchananite right” (it’s the only place to be!), I think it is unfortunate and tragic that supposedly conservative men with considerable influence on the national debate who knew the war to be mistaken did not object publicly and more strenuously when it mattered. But better to protect your “responsible” reputation and let thousands of Americans be sent to their deaths than let something as trifling as principle move you to speak when it would have made a difference, right?
What is astonishing about Podhoretz pere is not that he has no regrets for what he and his have helped to foist on the nation, and it is not even that he thinks Iraq has basically been a success (which any ideologue would maintain under pressure), but that he thinks it has something to do with successfully fighting Islamic fanaticism. The war that his cohorts helped push this country into has done more good for the vitality of especially fanatical Islam than anything else in the last 15 years. In the last 50 years, it is probably fourth only to Khomeini’s revolution, the Saudis’ massive funding of Wahhabism overseas and the war in Afghanistan in the ’80s in its significance for empowering such people. Not only was it unnecessary and criminal, but it was nothing short of mad, assuming that the goal was to weaken and undermine Islamic terrorism in the world.