I was reading this
Paul Krugman column and I was struck by something.
Before the war, officials refused to discuss costs, except to insist that they would be minimal.
A couple of things come to mind.
- The Bush Administration should have been more honest with the American people in the first place. Perhaps by saying invasions and occupations are tough and hard won, and that they cost treasure and lives, the populace might have been steeled for the tough times that eventually come with any armed conflict.
Instead, they went with the 'it will be easy and the costs will be minimal' argument and people are shocked at what's happening.
- Mr. Bush should stop acting like he had an overwhelming mandate at the polls in 2000.
I might go so far as to argue that he should stop acting like he won in the first place and go back to the ranch. But, it's too late now so I'll have to just wait for November.
At any rate, the Iraq invasion was a conflict of choice, and it turns out the majority of people who didn't vote for him in 2000 don't like being lied to and didn't want to go to Iraq if it wasn't necessary.
The Bush Administration's compelling, sustained pre-invasion case for war, 'Hussein has WMD and we are in imminent danger of attack at his nefarious hands,' fell through like a bucket with a paper bottom.
When that didn't work, what was left was the Right-Wing Rationale Of The Week™:
There has been an expectation on the part of the Administration that the American people will not only gather behind but also stand firm with Mr. Bush as he makes those tough War President™ choices in the Oval Office.
- Saddam Hussein was a bad man
- Saddam Hussein gassed his own people
- We're bringing democracy to the Iraqi people
- We're after the Evil-Doers
Not because they believe the conflict in Iraq is just, or they've been convinced it is the right thing to do by an Administration wanting to show the people the rightness of the cause, no, they are to stand behind Mr. Bush simply because they are supposed to.
The Greatest Generation™ did it in World War II...that sort of thing.
However, and it is one of those big, huge howevers...
Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan is one thing. So is the War On Terror™. There is indeed a compelling argument that we had to do something after 9/11 and that we can no longer be passive about terrorists.
Some might argue that American foreign policy and the support for abusive regimes around the world should be reconsidered and rebuilt from the ground up (which it probably should), or that Islam needs to clean its own house since Muslim terrorists are a small minority of the population (it definitely needs to look inward and deal with the systematic teaching or anti-American rhetoric), but one could make the legitimate case, before and post-9/11, for handing the smack-down to the Taliban and going after Bin Laden in Afghanistan...even Pakistan.
Not so conflicts of choice.
By invading, Mr. Bush assumed that the American people would gather up behind him and march along. He acted as if 9/11 gave him carte blanche to do what he wanted to do. He acted like he had a mandate from the American people won at the polls.
He was wrong and he should stop acting like the new American Caesar.