Jarvis on Zeyad and Iraq

Jarvis gave his mea culpa on the Iraq War today in response to Zeyad’s declaration of regret from earlier this week. It is a worthy post from someone who should probably stray more frequently from his media crit beat. I know I would welcome a bit more of this from him.

By now, after a few years worth of such public self-flaggelation/justification, the evolution of Jarvis’s position should be painfully familiar to many on the left. It certainly is to me. I, too, remember seeing very strong humanitarian and democracy-building arguments for invading Iraq in 2002-03. I remember making them at times myself. I also remember seeing those arguments made in the press by people like Hitchens and Beinart and, apparently, Jarvis.

However, I do not remember those arguments coming from the powerbrokers of the Bush Administration (those few instances when they did occur were more an afterthought, the exceptions that prove the rule).

Instead, they chose to pitch the WMD storyline. We could argue ourselves blue in the face about how domestic psychology influenced this political decision-making, but I don’t want to do that here. Suffice it to say that the Administration believed this storyline best and found it most believable (or, as Frank Rich might say, most saleable). They promised us WMD and WMD is what we would get. They meant to find WMD and prove to the world that they were right.

Intent is important, especially when it comes to a project as enormous as bringing democracy to the Middle East. That project was never the primary goal of the Bush Administration.
The left refused to take the Bush Administration at its word. Instead, the left chose to believe that Bush’s intentions, his real intentions, matched our own.

I think that is the real lesson that the left realized far too late. Bush truly is a straight-shooter, a walking talking wysiwyg. They should have taken him at his word from the beginning and weighed whether the argument he made for war was worth supporting. Hopefully, next time we’ll all remember to take our leaders a little more at their word.

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2 Responses to “Jarvis on Zeyad and Iraq”

  1. Jeff Jarvis Says:

    Good post and a very interesting take. Jay Rosen responded to my post arguing that I’d assumed the Bush Administration was reality-based. That’s parallel to what you’re saying: To use Californiapseak, I was projecting. And wrongly.

  2. Matt Sollars Says:

    We were all projecting. A year after 9/11, it was easy to justify any act that promised a return to stability and reason from chaos.

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