The Right Was Wrong

In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Sean Penn was asked about being on the receiving end of some fairly nasty attacks (see here, here, and here, as examples) when he was speaking out against the Iraq War preceding its commencement:
How do you feel about people who say actors shouldn't take stands?

I wrote a letter to the Washington Post a couple of years ago before we went into the war. The very things I was criticized for saying then are now being reported by Bill O'Reilly. I was criticized for suggesting the possibility there were no weapons of mass destruction. But the bigger issue is that it's an absolutely stupid notion that you should take the title of someone's profession and attach it to what they should not do. It has nothing to do with citizenry. I think they should shove it with their hypocritical Ronald Reagan standard . . . .
I won’t suggest that Penn isn’t prone to some uncomfortable hyperbole, but nor will I concede that his open letter to President Bush was inflammatory or unreasonable, or deserving of the vitriol with which it was received in many corners. Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to critique or defend Sean Penn in particular, but to address all the people who suggested pre-war the possibility there were no weapons of mass destruction, for a start.

Patridiot Watch’s Poppy hits the nail on the head:
Opponents to the Iraq War, at least those of us who did so from before the invasion, are constantly frustrated when new facts are unearthed supporting our position and beliefs from 2002 and 2003. We said there were no WMD, and there were none. We said Saddam's army was weak, and it was. We said Saddam had no connection to 911, and he did not. We said the initial invasion would be easy but would result in an ongoing guerilla war, and it did.

Yet the pundits we see on the television talking about the war are always its supporters, suggesting that even though opponents were right about everything no one could have known things would turn out the way they did.

Except there are hundreds of thousands of people who protested, rallied, wrote letters, signed petitions and fought against this appalling war who did know things would turn out this way.
I remember in the days leading up to the war saying that I did not believe that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (particularly not of the ilk that could do damage significant enough to the US, even if handed over to terrorists, to warrant a preemptive strike—a distinction that has been lost along the way); I felt it in my gut, but more importantly, I read everything on the subject I could, which gave me practical information about and psychological insight into Hussein and his rule. It just didn’t make sense for a variety of reasons (not the least of which being Colin Powell’s half-assed and bizarre presentation to the UN, which I found the opposite of convincing), and despite being told outright that I was a pompous idiot for thinking I knew more than the administration, I held firm to my instinct that we were headed to war on false pretenses. And I was only one of many.

Yet here we are, and not only, as Poppy suggests, is the war-supporting TV punditry refusing to issue apologies for their relentless attacks on those who now have more than enough right to claim “I told you so,” but is indeed acting as though opponents’ now-borne-out-as-accurate forecasts are complete rubbish, because, in an incredible fit of circular logic, no one could have predicted things would turn out this way.

I’m sick to the teeth of this administration, their Congressional minions, and their media operatives being demonstrably incapable of apologizing for or even admitting they are wrong about anything. The truth is, war opponents were right, for all the right reasons—no one suggested that Hussein was not an evil tyrant, or that Iraq wasn’t a problem that needed a workable solution; our differences were in what that solution was, and why a preemptive strike was not a viable or appropriate solution—and yet there is not a smidgeon of acknowledgement that the millions of Americans who were lambasted for espousing such views have turned out to be spot-on.

And what of the Congressional Dems who supported this war? I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation from them as to why a not-insignificant section of the American populace was able to discern the realities of the situation in Iraq, but they were not. It has been suggested that, rather than indicative of a misunderstanding of the realities of the Iraq situation, Dems’ votes in support of the war resolution were instead simply another anxious attempt to avoid a controversial vote coming back to bite them on the ass in an election year (a suggestion, I might add, that is likely accurate).

Well, let me point out to Dems the folly of casting a vote that seems politically wise instead of one that seems morally firm: the Iraq War Resolution vote did come back to bite you on the ass. Because you voted for the President’s folly under the threat of being called a traitor, rather than standing up for what you believed in as a true patriot does, you ceded the moral authority to effectively criticize the war. Now the administration and its war machine runs rampant, without an uncompromised opposition to hold it accountable.

That’s the whole problem with letting the desire to stay in office guide your principles; you’re often left without both principles…and your office.

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