Glenn Greenwald has his finger on the growing Iraq meme in the rightwing blogosphere – Iraq failed because the lefties didn’t clap loud enough.
Hear that, moonbats? Criticizing the president has consequences. To wit, it’s your fault if the negative consequences that you predict turn out to be true.
The President’s directions seem to have been limited to such slogans as “we’re not going to fail” and “pace yourself, Jerry.” In Bremer’s account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq’s ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: “It’s important to have someone who’s willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq.” According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush’s candidate for president of Iraq’s interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had “been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition.”
The president wasn’t the only Republican not feeling the love (Knight-Ridder 6/30/05, links dead):
The coalition government relied heavily on a revolving door of diplomats and other personnel who would leave just as they had begun to develop local knowledge and ties, and on a large cadre of eager young neophytes whose brashness often gave offense in a very age- and status-conscious society. One young political appointee (a 24-year-old Ivy League graduate) argued that Iraq should not enshrine judicial review in its constitution because it might lead to the legalization of abortion. A much more senior Iraqi interlocutor (a widely experienced Iraqi-American lawyer) became so exasperated with the young man’s audacity that he finally challenged him:
“You must have thoroughly studied the history of the British occupation of Iraq.”
“Yes, I did,” the young American replied proudly. “I thought so,” said the Iraqi, “because you seem determined to repeat every one of their mistakes.”
Clearly we also failed to give sufficient applause to the inexperienced ideological hacks put in charge of important aspects of Iraq’s reconstruction.
You can bet folks will respond to Glenn and my posts with the old ‘rooting for failure’ dodge. Why not? The natural consequence of the tinkerbell argument is that the entire country consists of two high school cheerleading squads. One roots for Team A, which is the president, and the other roots for Team B, which is evil. The Left, in all its composition-y goodness, obviously roots for B.
Call me crazy if you like but here’s an alternative model. Discounting nutbars like A.N.S.W.E.R. (righties who want to discount violent terrorists such as Operation Rescue can simmer down) the few who opposed Iraq basically said that the neocon objectives were unrealistic and likely to fail. After neocon objectives proved unrealistic and began to fail the same folks, shockingly enough, said ‘told you so.’ In a fair world one earns intellectual credibility by correctly forecasting the likely outcome of events that haven’t yet taken place. If so, and I’m looking forward to the arguments against, then the few prewar critics who correctly forecast what would happen, Howard Dean among them, have immense credibility on the issue and the rosy-scenario crowd has little to none.
It isn’t hard to imagine why somebody would point out that they have credibility on the Iraq issue. The war is an ongoing problem and people who regularly got it right maybe have a more realistic sense of what to do than the people who got every single thing wrong. The long-term question hasn’t worked itself out yet, true ehough, but the folks whose short-term projections proved so inept (WMD, AQ links, we’ll be greeted as liberators, reconstruction will pay for itself, bureaucracy will go back to work right after the war, candy and flowers, drawing the troops down to 30k within months, ‘last throes,’ no sectarian problems to worry about) will have a hard time convincing most people that their long-term vision is on the money.
The ‘rooting for failure’ stuff won’t stop anytime soon; when you’ve got a meme giving you that warm feeling of escaped responsibility you’ll flog it until maggots take the bones. Just bear in mind that they can’t pound the law, and they can’t pound the facts, so they’re pounding the table.