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Another Recantation.


Tie me to the whipping post.

John Cole at Balloon Juice now joins the ranks of former supporters of the Iraq war.

The starting point, the Bible verse for the sermon, is this story:

$75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country’s security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed “the rain forest.”

After saying that with identical data he'd still make the identical decision, John writes:

On the other hand, if I knew then what I know now- that much of the information I was basing my decision to support the war was flawed, that this administration was wholly unprepared and wholly unserious about succeeding, there is no chance in hell I would have supported the war. I trusted people I shouldn’t have, supported people who don’t and didn’t deserve my support, and as such, we are in the mess we are in.

Such is life. This story highlights what is so frustrating about having to live with this decision- the construction of a viable Iraqi police force, not based on sectarian rivalries and long-festering hatreds and with a motivation that goes beyond settling Hussein-era scores is one of the most important things that needs to be done in the reconstruction. I know that, you know that, and the administration knows it. You would think we would approach the situation with a degree of seriousness and with a fully committed desire to succeed. You would think, at the very least, the Police Acadamy would have a solid PHYSICAL foundation.

But, like everything else with this administration, we blew it. We did things piecemeal, didn’t provide the oversight, and things are deemed to be going ok just so long as they are not damaging the domestic political considerations and just so long as they don’t interfere with the mantra to ‘stay the course.’ Throw in a few chants about the media being biased, and we will get through this ‘rough patch.’ Really- everything is going peachy in Iraq- we just aren’t hearing enough media stories about our valorous troops.

Here's something I particularly admire, it's a response by John to a comment in which the comment writer takes the administration to task for smearing opponents of the war:

I share no small amount of the blame on this, as well. Really, I wish I could come up with an excuse for deleting my archives.

That's a nice grace note, and it inspires me to be equally gracious. When Rightwing Nutjob had a similar awakening I was pretty harsh. And I feel a little bad about that now. (Not a lot. A little.) The point of life, I've always thought, is to go to bed each night knowing a little more than you knew when you climbed out of bed that morning. John Cole is a guy who cares more about the truth than about proving himself right. Good for him.

I had to write my own mea culpa about a year and a half ago when I realized that despite the fact I believed this administration was fundamentally incapable of managing the situation, I nevertheless supported sending other men's sons off to kill and die. I made a 51/49 call, which is probably fine in most situations, but not when people's lives are on the line.

There will be a lot more people writing mea culpas before this is done. Some will go on drinking the Kool-Aid, more concerned with maintaining some ludicrous myth of their own infallability, but reality has away of playing hell with ideology. The Denialist camp is shrinking. They're on their way to becoming the political equivalent of flat-earthers.

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“Another Recantation.”

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