“Let’s Not Worry About Who Killed Who…”

 . . . so famously spoke Homer Simpson in an anxious attempt to deflect too much scrutiny into his culpability in the death of next-door neighbor Maude Flanders.

The RTD has a similar message in branding Jim Webb’s pointing out that he was against the war in Iraq all along as not “constructive.” The RTD seems to be implying that Webb was simply trying to get in a partisan knock on the president.

This is exactly wrong, for two central reasons. First, pointing out that the Bush team had poor judgment and ignored the many expert warnings against the dangers of invasion and occupation is entirely fair, because we cannot divorce our judgments about the latest “surge” plan from our judgments about this administration’s competence and ability to make wise decisions.

The fact that the Bush team royally screwed up Iraq, and that many people who were not listened to in 2003 predicted such an outcome, has real bearing on whom the public should be more inclined to trust in discussing what to do about Iraq in 2007. That’s an entirely constructive point for Senator Webb to put before the public.

Second, at some point this country is going to have to have a thorough inquisition into not only the Bush Administration’s actions in creating this quagmire, but also the overall political and media culture which enabled the invasion to proceed so rashly, with so little foresight and planning for what would come next, and so little serious debate and discussion in either the halls of power or our mainstream media outlets. If Americans as a people want to avoid being pulled into future Iraqs, we have to ask the question of why smart, experienced people with military experience or with first-hand knowledge of Iraq had so much less influence in the military run-up than a handful of neocon intellectuals who thought re-shaping the Middle East would be as easy as shifting pieces around a chess board.

Yes, that’s a question with a critical tone, but it absolutely serves a constructive purpose, and indeed, a constructive purpose of the highest importance.

Implicit also in the RTD’s critique of Webb is that those who opposed the Iraq invasion had no “constructive” alternative for dealing with Iraq or prosecuting the war on terror. This too is false: typically, opponents of the invasion favored continued containment and monitoring of the Saddam regime, while concentrating American effort and resources on 1) going after Al-Qaeda directly and 2) continued diplomatic efforts to isolate Al-Qaeda and other terrorists from the mainstream of Arab opinion, such that they remained a fringe group.

That serious voices on behalf of this strategy were so little heard in mainstream media outlets speaks only to the broader failure of our political system (the media very much included) in preventing this disaster.

Published in: on January 25, 2007 at 2:23 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A bit off the subject, though it might fall under the broad heading of “who’s killing who”, but thought others might be interested in the new article on the TD in the American Journalism Review at http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4267.

  2. Jim Webb is living up to expectations. He is going to fast become a very respected voice. I am not a died-in-the-wool Democrat by any means, but I saw something special in him early-on in last year’s race. This is pre-Macaca and when RT-D editorial staff were ranking him as an ‘ok guy, but basically a second-rate bum compared to Royal Highness George Allen.’

    I think RT-Ds editors still sell Webb short, which in turn makes one wonder what planet they live on. Sometimes.

  3. Thanks for the article on the RTD, Dabney. Very interesting and relevant.

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