I don’t know about you, but I initially opposed both of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 wars — the Iraq campaign especially.
Following the attacks of 9/11, a pitched battle arose between hawks and doves, with the former attempting to seize the moral high ground and ultimately winning the hearts and minds of the nation. Those of us who saw the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as foolhardy attempts to right an unrightable wrong were often painted with a broad brush — and the color our accusers primarily used was yellow.
We were bad Americans — and terribly naive. Or so they said.
These were the days of freedom fries and feckless French boycotts, and conservatives rarely missed a chance to question our patriotism.
Well, I want an apology. Take your time. Maybe you’ll want to write it down first.
This morning, The Washington Post released a startling, and frequently depressing, overview of the litany of lies that have kept us in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years now, and the piece proves that we dovish liberals were right all along.
The Post obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act showing that our government painted a rosy (and largely false) picture of the Afghanistan campaign time and time again, wasting nearly $1 trillion in the process:
The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”
“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. “Who will say this was in vain?”
Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures.
In other words, it has been, and continues to be, FUBAR.
Nowadays, of course, Donald Trump likes to pretend he has always opposed military involvement in the Middle East (even though that’s not remotely true and he continues to send aid to Saudi Arabia, for example).
But Trump didn’t really come out in opposition to the Iraq war until it became unpopular. And conservatives as a whole were not only gung-ho about both the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, they were also downright dismissive of their critics, going so far as to question our loyalties — over and over and over again.
So where did all those conservatives go? Quite a mystery, huh?
This isn’t just about being able to say “I told you so.” It’s about setting the record straight — and on most issues, the record suggests progressive policies are the best way to make everyone happy and prosperous. Decades of history prove that Democratic presidents tend to preside over more robust economies, and more recent history shows that Republicans tend to bumble us into ruinous, costly wars while irresponsibly running up our national debt.
In other words, electing Democrats is good for your health and your pocketbook. Electing Republicans is good for Republicans.
And as long as we continue to pretend that Republicans aren’t walking disasters, we’ll get more of them.
So, Mr. Bush fan — your apology, please.
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