I don't always agree with everything I read on the pages of the folks listed on the blogroll, but despite the fact that they self-identify as progressive, centrist or even conservative, I don't often take exception -- except with Sully. Andrew Sullivan can be maddeningly inconsistent, even incoherent. And although he eventually got it mostly right about Iraq and W.P.E, he made an ass of himself before he surrendered to reality.
So why do I still read him?
I was wrong because a) one critical element of the case for war was simply not there (whether lied about or misrepresented or incompetently judged or so riddled with "evidence" from the tortured or the criminal that the info was FUBAR); b) the president did mismanage the war so grotesquely that it clearly made the US less safe, empowered Iran, gave al Qaeda a new lease on life, opened the borders of Iraq to al Qaeda, permitted the ransacking and looting of much of Iraq, and led to tens of thousands of deaths of innocent civilians; c) I fatally misread the history of Iraq and did not fully appreciate the depth of the sectarian divides, the absence of any national identity that could effectively supersede tribal loyalties, and the trauma that Saddam's regime had imposed; d) I did not realize that the Bush administration would effectively suspend the Geneva Conventions in the war thus leading to the atrocities across the theater that did a great deal to undermine the moral basis for a just war.
Even if, in a decade or so, we see something approaching a normal society in Iraq (which would be the first time in centuries), I will still have been fantastically wrong. Just because in the very long run, it is possible that a decision made was retrospectively the right one, that was not the basis on which I supported the war and lambasted its opponents. I'm not going to pull that excuse. And the costs of the enterprise - both human and financial - continue to bear no rational relationship to the benefits we haven't even begun to see. To have embroiled ourselves in a large, open-ended, $3 trillion occupation of a country that is clearly no longer a country, and to trap the bulk of the military in that theater while threats proliferate globally, and to have no viable exit strategy ever: this is a colossal, historic error. And all this holds even if it turns out in the very long run to have made Iraq a more normal society than it was under Saddam.
I have a clear conscience on it. I didn't intend evil. I thought in advance it was a just war. I believed the evidence procured, I now know, from torture, that Saddam had contacts with al Qaeda.
He missed (and probably won't ever acknowledge) the most important reason he was wrong -- that even if all of his assumptions had been right, preemptive war against Iraq would still have been immoral. But how many other bloggers are so willing to publicly fess up? (Granted, when Sully goes looking for mistakes to admit, he faces an embarrassment of riches, but still...)
Update: On the other hand