March 13, 2005


Revisiting Iraq, and Rooting For Bush (Stuart Taylor Jr., 03-12-2005, National Journal)

I was guardedly in favor of invading Iraq, because I believed our president's confident claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his collaboration with Al Qaeda.

As time passed, I came to fear that the invasion had probably been a disastrous mistake -- perhaps the worst by any president in my lifetime.

That was after the WMD and the supposed Qaeda alliance turned out to be intelligence-agency fantasies grossly exaggerated by President Bush and his aides. And after the occupation turned into a blood-soaked disaster. And after many Iraqis who had initially greeted us as liberators switched to wanting us out, or dead. And after the Abu Ghraib photos. And after anti-Americanism soared to unprecedented levels around the world. And after experts confidently assured me that Iraq was doomed to civil war and chaos and would become a haven for terrorists.

I descended into dismay about Bush and his top people. I was driven deeper into it by administration claims of war-on-terrorism presidential powers that can only be called tyrannical: to seize anyone in the world, anywhere in the world; to imprison and interrogate the suspect indefinitely, incommunicado, with no semblance of due process; even (if the president chooses) to torture him. Not to mention Bush's feckless failure to prevent North Korea from going nuclear, the Guantanamo abuses, the disdain for diplomacy, the irresponsible approach to global warming, the fiscal recklessness, the shifting of tax burdens from the rich to future generations, the swaggering refusal to ever admit error, the smirk, and more.

Now, though, I am rooting for Bush to go down in history as a great president. [...]

How can we not root for Bush to win this campaign for Arab democracy, even if his chances still seem no better than even? And while celebrations are premature, shouldn't we sometime Bush-bashers -- and even the full-time Bush-haters -- be prepared to give great credit to him and his neocons, if and when it becomes clear that they have engineered a historic breakthrough?

Mr. Taylor is one of that sadly mere handful of folks who make up the Decent Left, those capable of looking past personalities and ideologies to what is best for the country and the world and, more imprtantly, recognizing that sometimes it's the other side that knows best.

Who else could we add to this list (allowing considerable leeway)?:


Robert Samuelson

AS REGARDS THE EXTENSION OF LIBERTY GLOBALLY (in other words, not in domestic affairs):

Michael Walzer
Michael Ignatieff
Paul Berman
Christopher Hitchens

Who else?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2005 4:57 PM

Any number of your fellow bloggers : Roger L. Simon, Michael J. Totten, Jeff Jarvis, Charles Johnson, et al. Might even count Insty in there. Heck, even Sir Andrew, when he occasionally transcends his sexual orientation.

Tom Friedman? David Ignatius?

Posted by: ghostcat at March 13, 2005 5:41 PM

Friedman every other column.

How many of those bloggers are on the Left besides Simon? Certainly not the libertarian ones.

Posted by: oj at March 13, 2005 5:46 PM

Depends, Clintonianly speaking. All the bloggers I listed seem to be socially liberal and more or less secular. All save Andrew are long-time Democrats who were outraged by 9/11 and probably would have voted for a seriously pro-WoT Democrat candidate. Jarvis held his nose and supported for Kerry anyway. And you know why Andrew supported Kerry ... though I happen to think he was also expecting a speechwriting gig in Kerrydom, thanks to his numerous P-Town connections. (No pun intended.)

Posted by: ghostcat at March 13, 2005 6:05 PM

Not positive, but I think Oriana Fallaci and Melanie Phillips would both describe themselves as leftists. Fulford maybe too in an artsy sort of way.

Posted by: Peter B at March 13, 2005 6:50 PM

How about Ed Koch and Joe Lieberman?

Posted by: GER at March 13, 2005 7:59 PM

How about Ed Koch and Joe Lieberman?

Posted by: GER at March 13, 2005 8:01 PM

I'm not so sure it is right to say Mr. Taylor is part of the left, decent or otherwise. I remember seeing him on various cble networks during the 2000 Florida election controversy. A lawyer, he seemed very critical of the Florida Supreme Court, very much not in the tank for Gore. I do not read him regularly, but I do when his columns are highlighted at Real Clear Politics, etc., and I don't recall him being overly negative re: Bush until Iraq started looking bad.

Posted by: Dan at March 13, 2005 8:22 PM

Robert Kaplan.

Posted by: Bart at March 13, 2005 8:36 PM


Kaplan's a conservative.

Posted by: oj at March 13, 2005 8:39 PM

As I remember the story of Charles Johnson, he started after 9/11/01 in the "why do they hate us" mode and as a result made the mistake of reading what the Caliphascists were saying instead of depending on Old Media to interpret it. That would make him a Lefty mugged by reality.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 13, 2005 8:53 PM

At Atlantic Monthly? He certainly doesn't see himself as one.

Posted by: Bart at March 13, 2005 8:55 PM

Michael Kelly was and he was editor.

Posted by: oj at March 13, 2005 9:03 PM

Prior to his 9/11 conversion, Charles Johnson was your stereotypical Lib, even superficially. Long hair, bicyclist, jazz guitarist, nature photographer, cat lover, sensitive male, you name it.

Now, he is so militant that his views border on Anti-Muslimism.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 13, 2005 9:55 PM

Less than heavy hitters, perhaps, but still quite significant:
* Norman Geras
* Oliver Kamm
* Nelson Ascher
* Neo-neocon

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 14, 2005 2:30 AM