Saturday, January 06, 2007

Former War Supporters Stricken with Amnesia

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Glenn Greenwald takes on the bumper crop of revisionist neocons who are now distancing themselves from pro-war positions and criticizing policies they once supported, without acknowledging that they once championed the very views they now condemn -- or, in some cases, even denying that their views were ever different.

Here is what Glenn has to say about just one of these dishonest weasels, Michael Ledeen:

Michael Ledeen, a Freedom Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor to National Review, chose the boldest option. In response to a Vanity Fair article about the swarms of neoconservatives abandoning the administration and the war as both become increasingly unpopular, Ledeen emphatically denied that he backed the invasion in the first place. Writing on National Review’s blog, The Corner, Ledeen claimed, "I do not feel 'remorseful,' since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place."

It is difficult to overstate the audacity -- and the mendacity-- of Ledeen's claim. In August 2002, he wrote a scathing article in National Review following an appearance by Brent Scowcroft on "Face the Nation," in which the former national security adviser argued against the invasion. Ledeen devoted his entire column to mocking Scowcroft's concerns:

It's always reassuring to hear Brent Scowcroft attack one's cherished convictions; it makes one cherish them all the more. … So it's good news when Scowcroft comes out against the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters.

Declaring that "Saddam is actively supporting al Qaeda, and Abu Nidal, and Hezbollah," Ledeen wrote, "the Palestinian question can only be addressed effectively once the war against Saddam and his ilk has been won." In response to Scowcroft's concern that invading Iraq could "turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror," Ledeen retorted, "One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today."

On countless occasions, Ledeen called for the invasion to start as soon as possible. In an August 2002 interview with FrontPage Magazine, when Jamie Glazov asked when the war should begin. Ledeen answered, "Yesterday."

He appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball" on Aug. 19 to complain again that the war had not started: "I think that if President Bush is to be faulted for anything in this so far, it's that he's taken much too long to get on with it, much too long."

The following month, in the Wall Street Journal, Ledeen wrote, "Saddam Hussein is a terrible evil, and President Bush is entirely right in vowing to end his reign of terror. If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support. [I]t is impossible to imagine that the Iranian people would tolerate tyranny in their own country once freedom had come to Iraq. Syria would follow in short order."

As Glenn points out, the problem with Ledeen's position now, and earlier; and with the other Bushites who are now claiming beliefs they excoriated in the past, is not the change in itself. It's the fact they are pretending they never felt otherwise:

All of these self-proclaimed super-patriots who spent the last three years shrieking that anyone who criticizes the war is a friend of the terrorists are now being forced to admit that the war is unwinnable. But rather than acknowledging their reversal, they seek to erase the public record, both to salvage their reputations and to obscure the intensity of their attacks against those who were right. Such vitriol against critics muted debate in the first place and ensured that we stayed in Iraq, pretending all along that things were going great.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging one's errors and changing one's mind. When genuine, this should be encouraged. But these pundits are not doing that. They know that they were on the wrong side of the most vital issue of the last decade, and in trying to reverse their predictions reveal themselves to be deeply flawed not only in judgment but also in character.

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