Motives

More

Johann Hari, a former left-wing Iraq hawk like myself, turns a review of a book by Nick Cohen, current left-wing Iraq hawk, into the opportunity for a great essay on the phenomenon. My main disagreement is that I think Hari overemphasizes the idea that democracy, freedom, etc. aren't important subjective aims of Bush, Cheney, neoconservatism etc.

I spent a lot of time puzzling over Bush's sincerity or lack thereof with regard to his idealistic rhetoric before the war, and in retrospect it was all wasted time. It's interesting to wonder how it's possible -- or if it's possible -- for a man to speak grand words about liberty in the morning and defending systematic torture in the afternoon, but it's not actually relevant. The main point was that there was simply never any good reason to believe the more idealistic aspiration sometimes associated with the war had any decent prospects of success. It was fundamentally dumb to think that invading and conquering Iraq could turn it into a stable liberal democracy if only we wanted it badly enough and that the main issue was whether or not Bush "really" wanted it. It was just fundamentally a dumb idea, and that's what I should have seen at the time. It still seems to me that Bush may well have been dumb enough to sincerely believe in it on some level, but it was still dumb -- that's what matters.

Defense Department photo courtesy of Ping News.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In