Jonah Goldberg

It's a fact of human nature that it's easier to talk about who's to blame for a problem than it is to figure out what to do about the problem.

Case in point: There's a near-riot in liberal circles over the very idea that supporters of the Iraq War should even be allowed to criticize the president's handling of the current Middle East crisis, never mind offer advice on how to proceed.

The Atlantic's James Fallows says Dick Cheney and company "have earned the right not to be listened to." Slate magazine's Jamelle Bouie says that prominent public intellectuals and journalists who supported the Iraq war should "be barred from public comment." Charles Pierce at Esquire is less subtle: "Shut up, all of you. Go away."

Some go even further. Katrina vanden Heuvel asks in the Washington Post: "Can someone explain to me why the media still solicit advice about the crisis in Iraq from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? Or Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)?" (One possible answer: They are newsmakers, holding prominent positions on pertinent Senate committees.)

I'm always curious what agency in a free society is in charge of enforcing prohibitions on such things.

Given the tendency for nearly everyone to get things wrong over time, this is a dangerous game. Vanden Heuvel has been wrong about so many things, it's difficult to know where to begin. She opposed pretty much the warp and woof of America's Cold War policies. She opposed Bill Clinton's war in the Balkans. She opposed the Persian Gulf War.

Fallows made a name for himself in the 1980s and '90s championing the notion that Japan Inc. would overtake the United States. Shall we stop listening to him on economic issues?

And there are all of the Democratic politicians who supported the Iraq war, only to condemn it when the politics went south on them. Shall we ignore President Obama's vice president, not to mention his current and former secretaries of State? What of Susan Rice? She was a vocal supporter of the war in 2003. And she's now national security advisor, advising Obama as we speak.

Moreover, most of the "shut up!" chorus, not to mention Obama, were all opposed to the "surge," arguing that it couldn't work. It did, saving America from a humiliating defeat.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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