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May 24, 2007

Scooter Libby: Persecuted In So Many Different Ways

Looking through an old Esquire article about the Bush administration from October, 2004, I noticed this section about Scooter Libby:

With the battered air of someone who knows it won't do any good, Scooter reminds me of all the terrible things that war critics predicted but that didn't happen in Iraq: the siege of Baghdad that was going to turn into a new Battle of Stalingrad with thousands of U.S. combat deaths, the civil war between Kurds and Arabs, the millions of refugees, the collapse of moderate governments around the Arab world, the rush of Shiite Iraqis into the arms of the Iranian mullahs. All of it predicted, none of it happened—but none of it matters now. The failure to find WMD and the president's proclamation of "Mission Accomplished" on the USS Abraham Lincoln have forever marked neocon Iraq policy as a "miscalculation."

Yes, I well remember the way war critics not only predicted that all these things would happen, but would all happen within eighteen months of an invasion. Sure, four years after the war began many of these things have happened, and all of them might. But they didn't happen by October, 2004, and that really shows how unfairly neoconservatives have been treated.

Posted at May 24, 2007 01:55 PM | TrackBack

The Stalingrad prediction depended on what Saddam's military would do, and nobody knew. If they'd chosen to fight it out in the streets of Baghdad as a relatively small number of insurgents later did in Fallujah, it presumably would have been pretty ugly. But they chose not to do that, and instead we have the insurgency.

There were also predictions of what could have happened if Saddam really did have massive quantities of WMD's and chose to use them. He was, after all, supposed to be in league with Al Qaeda, and therefore crazy, so if you took the Bush warnings at face value, the Iraq war could have caused truly massive number of deaths (the majority would be Iraqi civilians). The Bush Administration seemed oddly cavalier about that possibility, at least in my recollection, almost as though they didn't really believe their own hype about the Iraqi threat.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at May 24, 2007 02:59 PM

Funny thing about the author of that piece, Walter Russell Mead. He used to be a lefty--I have an old book of his from the late 80's lying around somewhere called "Mortal Splendor", where he sounds only a little to the right of Chomsky. He seemed to be thinking in terms of a New Deal for the world's workers, raising living standards and fighting disease and so forth. I'd have to re-read his book, but I don't recall any hint of this "liberal" military interventionism. He seems to have changed. He's also on TV a lot now, an oh-so-respected foreign policy guru, which wasn't the case then. Funny how these things work.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at May 24, 2007 03:09 PM

I have Mortal Splendor too. It's a fantastic book—not just politically but in terms of pure writing.

But he sure has changed since then. It's a drag. Certainly you'd have to in order to become "Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy" at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 24, 2007 03:35 PM

Good catch! I find it very interesting to read old articles on the Bush administration and neocons. In many cases, it's really painful to see how the reporter was completely played.

Posted by: Batocchio at May 24, 2007 03:54 PM

In this case I don't think the reporter was played. Mead supported the war, probably still supports the war, and would likely still say Libby was unfairly treated.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 24, 2007 04:41 PM

Poor Ole Scooter will FINALLY get some FAIR treatment, in prison.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 24, 2007 08:00 PM

Whereas, as we all know, all the wonderful things predicted by the neocons - the flowers, the candy, the spread of democracy throught the Middle East - all totally did happen.


Posted by: Dunc at May 25, 2007 05:44 AM

Looking through an old Esquire article about the Bush administration

I don't know what karmic debt you're trying to work off, but self-flagellation is unlikely to help.

Posted by: Dayv at May 25, 2007 01:22 PM

i didn't think anybody would be going house-to-house in baghdad. who would fight armored brigades in a city? even arab people have seen taps. it's a classic.

Posted by: hibiscapa at May 25, 2007 03:24 PM

Well, this liberal will confess that my prognosticating can be a bit off; for example, I never would have thought we'd have a senior federal official named "Scooter."

However, to the best of my knowledge, no one died because I couldn't foresee that.

Posted by: Whistler Blue at May 25, 2007 04:36 PM