Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Post-9/11, Iraq was a bad idea.

James Webb, secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, was on Hardball last night hawking his new book and talking about the soldiers who refused to deliver fuel without an escort in vehicles that they felt were dangerous. But near the end of the interview, Webb questioned the Bush administration, and specifically Vice President Cheney's constant insistence that the changes of the post 9-11 world supported their actions in Iraq. For the Bushies, 9-11 justifies everything they do in Iraq. To those us in the reality based world, 9-11 underscores just how wrong the invasion of Iraq was. Webb forcefully made the case that Iraq was a mistake, especially after 9-11 (emphasis mine):

WEBB:  My view of it, when Vice President Cheney repeatedly says that the people who have questioned the war against Iraq don‘t understand the post-9/11 world, my view is the complete reverse.  The people who did this, this was on their to-do list when they got into the administration, and they did not... 

MATTHEWS:  Cheney? 

WEBB:  Cheney and the whole group that really put this together.  They wanted this as a part of what was going to happen in the Bush administration.  One way or the other, they were waiting for... 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s why they joined, you could argue. 

WEBB:  And in my view, these people don‘t understand the realities post-9/11.  Post-9/11, this was a bad idea.  Pre-9/11, I still would have opposed it, but at least it was an arguable idea. 

MATTHEWS:  Because—why is it more of a bad idea now since 9/11? 

WEBB:  Because international terrorism really moved in a dramatic way from a regional problem to a global problem.  We saw that we had to step to the forefront.  We had all the nations of the world with us after 9/11.  And we systematically alienated a huge percentage of the world at a time we needed their cooperation.  We tied down our military in static positions when we had developed, for 10 or 15 years, we had worked on a maneuverable military.  And now we dumped them into static positions.  So it is a bad idea in terms of international politics, a bad idea in terms of grand strategy, and a bad idea in how to use the military.

MATTHEWS:  Did we dare the Arab world to take us on in Iraq?  The young men of the Arab world?  Did we say, go ahead, make our day, go ahead, step up to the plate, you got it? 

WEBB:  Clearly, it was the inevitable consequences of anyone who thought this through. 

MATTHEWS:  Like bring it on.  That‘s what the president said.  And they did. 

WEBB:  And well, I think that by putting our people in Iraq, we certainly made them targets in a way that they wouldn‘t have been if we were fighting the war against international terrorism from a position to maneuver. 
What's that? Under the Bush administration, we've thrown away 10-15 years of development of a maneuverable military, turning our once mobile army into static targets for terrorists? Naaa. We're liberating Iraq and spreading democracy and making the world safer!