Yesterday, Tom Ricks rightly complained that Pete Wehner misquoted him. Wehner, caught red-handed, doubles down. Sigh. It's not a close call. Wehner claims Ricks wrote "I think staying in Iraq is immoral." What Ricks actually wrote is the following, as an argument for keeping troops longer in Iraq:

I think staying in Iraq is immoral, but I think leaving immediately would be even more so, because of the risk it runs of leaving Iraq to a civil war that could go regional. That is, I don't expect much to be gained by staying, but I think much, much more could be lost by leaving right now. Just pulling out unilaterally reminds me of Jerry Rubin's comment back in the 1960s that after the revolution, he would just "groove on the rubble."

My italics.

This question was a matter of some debate between me and Ricks recently, and Ricks' position of keeping more troops there for a longer period - which won't win him much applause from the liberals and realists who admire his work - was recently outlined in the New York Times. I'm concerned that there will never be a moment when post-sectarian politics allows US troops to leave, because Iraq is Iraq, and so we should leave sooner rather than later, preferably when the future Iraqi government demands that we do. But Tom's case is a strong one pragmatically, and he is admirably facing up to the conflicts he feels about it.

I know this kind of position is a little intricate for the ideological mindset, but it is intellectually honest and deserves being treated seriously as an argument, rather than as a truncated rhetorical bludgeon.

Why can most neoconservatives never concede error?

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