"I No Longer Believe ..."

Daniel Larison has written a superb addendum to Rod Dreher's list of things he once believed that he no longer does. This leapt out at me in particular:

2)  One of my other false beliefs connected to this was that most conservatives were conservatives first and GOP partisans second (if at all), and would therefore be just as outraged by GOP government activism and overreach as they had been in the 1990s.  This was the worst sort of naivete on my part, and it was repeatedly shown to be false.  To point out that some of the same people who wanted to attack Iraq opposed aggression against Yugoslavia was almost useless  - partisans are well aware that they use a double standard, and they have no problem with it. Again, I mistook the attitudes of conservatives whom I knew for what was true for “conservatives” generally - this was just sloppy analysis.

3) Another false belief that I held was that most conservatives were conservative as a result of custom and reflection, with rather more emphasis on the latter, and to discover that most conservatives were such on the basis of little more than visceral dislike of various hate figures was something that took some time to accept.

I am guilty of the same misjudgment, although my mistake was worse than Larison's, since I backed the Iraq war passionately, and he didn't. A provisional list of my own:

1. I believed that the United States would never violate the Geneva Conventions and that an American president would never authorize torture as a policy. Semantics aside, I have been forced to accept that this has indeed happened, and that the American public, by and large, is fine with it.

2. I believed that there was no doubt that Saddam had stockpiles of WMDs, and that these constituted an active and potential threat to the US, Europe and Israel.

3. I believed that rough-and-ready democracy could be brought to the Arab Middle East within a few years. I now believe democracy as the West understands it will not take root in the Arab world in my lifetime, if ever.

4. I didn't think a US occupying force would simply shrug its shoulders at spiraling chaos in a country it had invaded and occupied.

5. I didn't think the American public would re-elect a commander-in-chief of such an occupying force.

6. I thought that conservative intellectuals would show a modicum of intellectual honesty in grappling with the disaster in Iraq. Most didn't and haven't.

7. I didn't think we would go another six years after 9/11 without a major terror attack on US soil.