Me & The War

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One of the commenters to an idiotic Winds of Change post about me raises a good question about the disaster of Iraq:

If it was all so foreseeable, why didn't Yglesias foresee it? The truth is, he was pro-war when that was fashionable, and now he's antiwar when that is fashionable.

I plead not guilty to the charge of fashionability since you'll see I turned against the war before it was fashionable to do so. I could give a long answer detailing my naiveté about the war, but the truth of the matter is that in an irresponsible-but-probably-typical manner I just took my cues from the fact that almost all of the leading Democrats seemed to be backing Bush on this and so I did, too. It was only after the invasion that I bothered to read Charles Tripp's A History of Iraq and begin to get any information about Iraq that wasn't specifically designed as a polemic about the war.

Well, my heart sunk like a stone. Between reading that book and once I bothered to notice that the nuclear weapons intelligence was all wrong (I'm always baffled by how few hawks changed their mind after this, seeing as it was the centerpiece of the argument for war and all), it looked pretty clear that I'd gotten this wrong. In retrospect, I think it was all foreseeable enough, but like a lot of people I said a lot about this issue without knowing anything about it and it's hard to make forecasts from a perspective of total ignorance.

But that goes back to the point I was making about Weber (Justin Logan busts out a similar point against Michael Gerson) and Roger Cohen -- you need to take responsibility for these things. Glancing around and noticing that Saddam Hussein is bad and spreading liberty is good are easy. But there's nothing moral about carelessly supporting careless endeavors that, though draped in good intentions and lofty statements of purpose, in fact turn out to be bloody disasters.

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

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