Looting Then And Now

I was interested to see Charles Krauthammer concede today that important "strategic errors" were made in Iraq, "most important, eschewing a heavy footprint, not forcibly suppressing the early looting and letting Moqtada al-Sadr escape with his life in August 2004." Previous to this column, Krauthammer had only mentioned the looting once, in is June 13, 2003 "Hoaxes, Hype and Humiliation". The only point he made in the column was to argue that the story of the looting of Iraq's national museum had been initially overstated. Or, as he put it in his typically measured manner, "You'd have to go back centuries, say, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, to find mendacity on this scale." He referred also to the "narcissism" and "sheer snobbery" of people like Frank Rich who were concerned about the looting.

He then noted that after the stories of widespread looting in Iraq had been debunked (this would be the same looting he now says was a key strategic error) "The left simply moved on to another change of subject: the 'hyping' of the weapons of mass destruction." Ha, ha, silly left.

As for Sadr, back in April 2004 at the height of fighting between the US military and the Mahdi Army, Krauathammer was confident. Back in his April 16, 2004 column "This Is Hardly Vietnam" he observed merely that "the Shiite establishment has been negotiating on our behalf with the Sadr rebels." In his May 14, 2004 column "The Abu Ghraib Panic", Krauthammer said that "The Sadr insurgency appears to be waning." Sadr, whose survival in 2004 Krauthammer now sees as the key turning point in the war, then goes unmentioned in his columns for almost two years.

And such is the war in Iraq as seen through neocon lenses. Mistakes are always in the past. The current policy is always working. When the mistakes are being made, those who point out the mistakes are tarred as near-treasonous. Then, after another year or two of pointless, futile bloodshed, it's conceded that mistakes were made in the past. But now we're right on track. And the liberals, once again, just don't get it.