My wife, daughter and I watched a download of Big Fat Liar last night; this morning it inspired a few political thoughts.
I was living in France when the war talk began, and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I participated in an antiwar march in Nice that drew maybe 6,000 people; in the months leading up to the invasion there were turnouts in the hundreds of thousands in big cities in Europe and around the world. The French believed that Bush was forcing the war idea, that the American people were not behind him. The French were wrong: according to PollingReport, more than three-fourths of the American public supported the American invasion of Iraq at the time. Even before 9/11, two out of three Americans said they would favor ousting Saddam from power by military force.
Hillary Clinton acknowledges that she made a mistake in supporting the congressional authorization for the war. She said she was lied to by the Administration. I don’t believe her.
Even at the time it seemed clear that most of the publicly-available evidence of Iraqi WMDs and collaboration with al-Qaida was either transparently shaky or already disproven. If a layman like me could see it, surely the Congress could. I believe that the Congress, including the Democrats, went along with the case that Bush and Powell put before the world knowing that it was a deception. Why? I’d say it was largely a matter of patriotic zeal. America was pissed after 9/11, America was already pissed at Saddam after Gulf War One, America was ready to attack. The Democrats, I believe, could have exposed the deception but didn’t. Either they were afraid of political backlash for being perceived as unpatriotic, or they too really wanted to kick Saddam’s ass.
Now that the war effort is floundering and public opinion has shifted, I suspect the American public will accept Hillary’s explanation. We will not want to remember how enthusiastic we once were about this war. We will want to disavow complicity. We will look for someone to blame. It’s a lot easier to say we were deceived than to admit that we were willing to lie to ourselves.