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George Will and the Iraq War Dead-Enders

Pete Wehner’s criticism of George Will’s latest column seems to boil down to his annoyance that Will used to be a war supporter:

But I do believe that now that he’s claiming Iraq is “the worst foreign-policy decision in U.S. history,” Will might want to admit from time to time that he believed, pre-Iraq war, it was a terrific and necessary idea.

I’m not sure what point Wehner thinks he’s making here. Yes, Will wrongly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Like most other prominent pundits at the time, he bought into the official case for attacking Iraq and defended it. Like almost all other Republican and conservative pundits, he continued to defend the administration’s decision to invade long after he should have rejected the arguments behind it. Unlike Wehner and the few remaining true believers in a bad cause, however, Will evidently wised up and realized that his previous view had been mistaken. Put another way, if “there was no more articulate advocate for the war” than Will before the invasion, shouldn’t it concern Wehner that the same person now denounces the war as the greatest mistake in the history of U.S. foreign policy? I happen to think Will is wrong about that. U.S. involvement in WWI and Vietnam easily outstrip the Iraq war as inexcusable errors and senseless wastes of American lives, but that doesn’t make the Iraq war any less of a debacle.

Even if the Iraq war isn’t the worst blunder in U.S. history, it is surely one of the worst. It certainly doesn’t count as a success or a victory, no matter how many times self-serving hawks say that it was, and the fact that one of their former allies now repudiates the war in the strongest terms should tell those hawks that they have been profoundly wrong all along. It isn’t Will who must account for his turn against the war. Any sane person would have recoiled from the Iraq war in the years that followed the invasion. The people that have to explain themselves are the Iraq war hawks that continue to spread falsehoods about that war to defend an indefensible policy.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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