“Overthrowing Hussein Was Right”

It has become a point of undeniable transparency that we have reached something like a tipping point (apologies to Mr. Gladwell) when it comes to elite opinion and the war in Iraq. It is clear that as soon as we pass the hurdle of the midterm elections on November 7 there will be an expansive reconsideration of the current Administration policies. The extent of this re-think is already leaking out to the press – clearly ahead of the Bushies hoped for schedule. My co-blogger – who paved the way for all these johnny-come-latelys (though I too am willing to whore my modest writing skills to the “leggy lefty”) to the idea of an Iraqi referendum – has some good thoughts on how we can break this bloody impasse and proceed in a morally and strategically acceptable fashion. I will cede that angle of the debate to him.

Rather, I would like to focus on something else. It is almost a prerequisite of running for elective office in America these days to go through the ritual process of saying: “If I knew then what I know now I never would have voted to authorize the president to use military force in Iraq.” It is a logical position. It bears saying. Yet precisely because this sentiment is so stiflingly pervasive that I was intrigued by a recent interview Kanan Makiya gave to Radio Free Europe. Perhaps more than anyone else, especially on the left, Makiya was instrumental in shaping opinion in advance of the war against Saddam (just read Paul Berman and George Packer on this).

Looking back three and a half years later, Makiya is frank in his assessment and acknowledges the obvious lapses in evaluation and judgment. He notes that: “I‘m sure today, not a day passes that many members of the American administration do not rue the day that they ever supported this activity of getting rid of the tyrant and replacing [him with] a new order. They certainly regret it, because it has not been in American interests, by and large.

He adds: “But I, as an Iraqi, from the point of view of someone for whom that dictatorship and its abuses over 30 years have been the be-all and end-all of my life — I have seen what they have done — I cannot ever say that it was wrong to support the overthrow of that dictatorship. And I challenge any human being to say to me that that was wrong.

p.s. If you have not read Makiya’s two-part interview in Democratiya you should do yourself a favor and do so. Soon. Now. (Part 1, Part 2).

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