Saturday, June 02, 2007


Michael Kinsley, writing in today's Washington Post, exposes a number of the inconsistencies in the arguments being made on behalf of continued support for the war in Iraq. Here's a sample:

There was a time, circa 1999, when Republicans considered it the height of naivete, irresponsibility and indifference to the fate of American soldiers to commit any troops to action in a foreign country without what used to be called an "exit strategy." That was when the president was a Democrat. Now it is considered the height of naivete, irresponsibility and indifference to the fate of American soldiers to suggest the possibility of any exit strategy short of triumph. If you do, you are betraying the troops. And no one sees actual triumph in the cards, so there is no exit strategy.

After noting the Wall Street Journal's suggestion that Democrats use the power of the purse if they really want to end the war--and pointing out that the same Wall Street Journal applauded the Reagan Administration's illegal efforts to get around congressionally imposed funding restrictions in the Iran-Contra affair--Kinsley parses the argument that Bush, being democratically elected, has a certain democratic legitimacy for his policy of going to war in Iraq:

Of course, the president is elected, and in that sense he is acting as proxy for the citizens when he decides to take our country into a war. Right? Well, not quite. Let's leave aside the voting anomalies of the 2000 election. When this president first ran for national office, he campaigned on a platform of criticizing his predecessor for engaging in military action (in Kosovo and Somalia) without an exit strategy. He mocked the notion of trying to establish democracy in distant lands. He denounced the use of American soldiers for "nation-building." In 2000, if you were looking for a way to express your disapproval of the policies and prejudices that later got us into Iraq, your obvious answer would have been to vote for George W. Bush.

Read Kinsley's essay. It's an important contribution to the current debate.