Thursday, February 10, 2005


Learning from the mistakes we never made

Recently The Daily Show commented on President Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address. I thought that the final exchange of this segment was brilliant.
Stephen: Yeah, I was never behind the preemptive strike thing. It made us seem weak, acting out of fear. But I will tell you this glorious army of compassion, great liberators bringing democracy to the world stuff, that is a rationale for war I could get behind...retroactively.

Jon: But, Stephen to say that in 2005 our goal was to liberate Iraq is convenient and not really what happened.

Stephen: Look, Jon. Should we have revised history sooner? Of course. And, I'm sure, in the future, we will. But for now the important thing is that we have already learned from the mistakes we never made.

The video for this segment should be available here.

I believe The Daily Show is dead on. I think it's wonderful that Saddam is out of power and that the Iraqis have held an election in which they had 3 orders of magnitude more choices on their ballots than the last time they voted, going from only "Yes to Saddam" to thousands of parties. However, I feel that the way the Administration has attempted to subtly shift the historical cause for the war in Iraq from eliminating WMDs and terrorism to liberating the Iraqi people is duplicitous because they have not truly acknowledged that they are attempting to make the shift because they simply have failed in their original goal.

It's vaguely like a weekend-warrior-remodeler who sets out to upgrade his bathroom and kitchen, but through his own ineptitude ruins the carpeting in three other rooms and causes structural damage to the walls of two other rooms. After recovering from the crisis, he throws an open house to show off his abode's new "open floor plan" which only slightly impinges on bather privacy and the "distressed antique hardwood floors" that happened to be under his ruined carpet, while claiming that he had designed it that way from the beginning, despite the unimproved kitchen. All that work must've cost him a fortune you'd say. He'd pan the topic, letting you know that while he was spent far more on the project than he earned, it was no big deal because he'd gotten a loan to cover the shortfall and he didn't count it against his regular budget due to extraordinary circumstances; plus when the rest of the bills came in, he'd just go back to the bank for another loan.

Brilliant analogy, Leif. Absolutely brilliant.
Leaving aside whether violence is ever justified, I think you're right. We can acknowledge the good that has happened in Iraq, without supporting the circumstances under which the invasion began. And, as some commentators have pointed out, this would be a good position for Europe to take: support the elections, encourage freedom, while clearly distancing oneself from the early stages.
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