I am constantly amazed at the tendency of some to use the perspective of hindsight to condemn decisions of those who did not possess the supernatural gift of predictive prophecy at the time they made their decisions.
So when a friend asked whether I believe that those who supported George W. Bush's decision to attack Iraq should feel remorse, considering the chaos and genocide occurring there now, I said "no," with some qualifications.
I believe that Bush and his team based their decision to invade Iraq on the best available intelligence (as to weapons of mass destruction) and a reasonable belief that Saddam Hussein fostered and supported terrorism -- not to mention his serial violation of multiple U.N. resolutions -- and thereby represented a threat to the national security interests of the United States and its allies.
Democrats, who initially supported the war for political reasons, later conveniently withdrew their support for political reasons and lied through their teeth about their former support and the facts leading to it. Through their relentless, vicious attacks on Bush, they systematically undermined the public's confidence in the war and our ability to optimally wage it.
Should the Bush team have better anticipated the strength and resilience of the insurgency after our toppling of Saddam? I suppose so, but in this age of terrorism and asymmetrical war, I'd contend that such events are less predictable than they might have been before.
Was team Bush Pollyannaish in its belief that democracy would survive in such an environment? I incline toward thinking so, but I am not sure we can make a firm assessment either way, seeing as the experiment was cut short because of our precipitous and total withdrawal from the country.
Interestingly, I remember hearing toward the end of his term that Bush's goal was to achieve a level of stability in Iraq that even a liberal president could not easily screw up. But in fairness, how could he have foreseen that the United States would elect an extreme leftist as his successor who would not only fail to understand the global scope of the war on terror but also be as wantonly irresponsible in negotiating our withdrawal from Iraq as Barack Obama was?
Nonetheless, in light of the massacre currently underway in Iraq, it's hard for us supporters of the Iraq invasion not to second-guess ourselves and wonder whether this kind of bedlam would have happened but for the vacuum made possible -- albeit indirectly and several steps removed -- by our deposing of Saddam.
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