For many of us, the war was supposed to be about U.S. national security and only about U.S. national security. It would be nice if we could make Iraq a better place, just as it would be nice if we could make Afghanistan a better place, but that was never a sufficient reason to go to war. The reason to go to war was to find and kill every last son of a bitch who had anything to do with 9/11. And that job was not the main focus in Iraq, and in any event is unfortunately not finished.
One of the main reasons John McCain is facing such an tough job today is that we are now in the sixth year of a war that the president of his own party started by mistake. That’s a major headwind when you’re running for president; an error of that magnitude will exact a political price. Would anyone be surprised if voters say that they’ve had enough?
Feith complains that the Bush administration has emphasized democracy promotion as a war rationale at the expense of the “terrorism/state sponsorship/WMD nexus.” The trouble with this argument is that we didn’t find the anticipated WMD stockpiles and the extent of Saddam Hussein’s connections with jihadists is more controversial and disputed than the prewar intelligence on WMD. Virtually all the major world intelligence agencies, as Feith reminds us, believed the WMD were there. There’s nothing like that consensus about a strategically meaningful al-Qaeda/Iraq relationship.
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