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Jason Holliston
Friday, November 05, 2004  
Fair Weather Friends

This column, by Tim Cavanaugh over at Reason Magazine, is a few days old, but it's worth going back and reading if you haven't seen it. It's an on target rip on some of the "liberal hawks" that aligned themselves with George W. Bush after the towers fell, but have since then abandoned him, especially over the past 6 months. Most of these people came together with the Neo-Conservatives in supporting the great Middle East democracy experiment, and many were very fluent and convincing in their arguments. Then, earlier this year, two things became obvious:

1. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction weren't going to show up any time soon, if ever. The legalistic reason for the invasion was for now, blown to pieces.

2. Iraq's transition to democracy was not going to be easy, and Baghdad was not going to resemble Providence, Rhode Island in the near future. Lots of people would suffer and die to hopefully make this happen, both American and Iraqi.

I've said on this blog that I think things are going great in Iraq -- compared to how they could have gone. I believe that if we're not over the hump yet, we're awfully close, and both American and Iraqi casualties will start their inevitable slide downward. Most importantly, I supported the war -- and still do -- with the full expectation of it being worse than it has been, for both our people's.

As Cavanaugh says, to wit:

More than that, the liberal hawks must consider the very real possibility that what is happening today in Iraq is not an unforeseeable disaster but the best outcome any reasonable person could have expected. When you say yes to war, the only certainty is that you're saying yes to rape, murder, theft, destruction, starvation, torture, madness and every other calamity flesh is heir to. Fewer than 2,000 dead, cooperation from some of the conquered country's most respected figures, and the dim prospect of elections are not the natural consequences of any war: They can only be regarded as freebies.

I would ask Andrew Sullivan, Paul Berman, and Jeff Jarvis to point out to me a war that has been fought (on a fairly major scale) that hasn't had it's major problems and missteps. I can't think of any. I say we, the initial supporters of the war based on either humanitarian and/or democratic grounds, should judge the President on two metrics: what the situation is now, compared to what the situation might have been, and how he and his people learn from their mistakes. In my view, his report card is a solid B in these respects -- perhaps a B+. I'd ask them to come up with their own grade for Mr. Bush, and then do this exercise: give Franklin Roosevelt his wartime leader grade in, say, 1943. That would be telling.

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