Once upon a time two companions embarked on an adventure in an unfamiliar land. As they made their way through the woods they came to a fork in the road and began to argue over which path to take. Pointing to the path on the right, the first traveler said, “I think that road leads south to the desert. We should go left.” The second man said, “The path on the left may lead us into unknown dangers. We should go right.” Unable to agree, one took the path on the right while the other took the road on the left. Eventually the one headed south does indeed come to the desert. Believing he can cross he keeps walking but ultimately the heat and lack of water proves too much and he becomes weak and disoriented. Knowing he will die he thinks to himself, “My friend was smart to take the other road,” and then he perished. The second man found himself deep in the jungle. Walking along he inadvertently stumbles into a tribe of savages who practice cannibalism. He is taken prisoner and as he awaits his fate he thinks to himself, “My friend was smart to take the other road,” and then he is killed and eaten.
The moral to the story is this: don’t presume that because things didn’t work out as you planned that the road not taken would have guaranteed you sunshine and roses instead.
That is the basis of my message to the frothing-at-the-mouth leftists and libertarians who are cackling with glee at the chaos in Iraq and congratulating themselves for being “right” in their predictions, as in this comment (unpublished) left at my blog:
“Looks like you Neocons were wrong about Iraq after all, eh? Ron Paul and libertarians, on the other hand, have been proven 100% correct...”
Fairly quiet while things appeared to be stable, the so-called “libertarians” now cruise the web in search of the hated “neocons” so that they can gloat. Of course, gloating is cheap when you’ve never been in a position to make the difficult decisions and never had to own the consequences, but they aren’t above it. Why should they be? They have no history of their own to defend, no paths they’ve been entrusted to choose between where the future was uncertain. Still they take comfort in the tortured logic that says the failure met on one path somehow automatically vindicates the other. Sorry to put a damper on the fun but that simply isn’t the case. Whatever challenges there have been with respect to Iraq there is no way of knowing what different challenges we might have faced had we followed another path and not gone to war in 2003. That is a fact.
The Iraq war and the debate that led up to it has been the perfect case study in revisionist history, thanks to democrats who were for the war until election time came and then suddenly, seeing that things weren’t going so well, they scrambled to save themselves by declaring that they’d been lied to. So-called libertarians like “Unknown” jumped on that bandwagon and both factions pounced on what they believed to be a golden opportunity to turn the debate on Iraq into a referendum on conservatism. Never let a crisis go to waste. With an either-or mentality that evoked scenes from the George Carlin skit where anyone driving faster than you is an “asshole” and anyone slower than you is an “idiot,” the leftists decreed that a vote for John Kerry or Ron Paul meant you were peace loving while a vote for Bush made you a war-mongering “neocon.” The absurdity of such a position, a basis for humor in the Carlin skit, was lost on the Left. Given what they were trying to do I found myself wanting to defend Bush no matter what the criticism rather than allow any misstep in Iraq to be touted as evidence of some broader failure of conservatism. Such is the unintended consequence of politicizing that which ought not be politicized.
Any reasonable debate about Iraq needs to begin at the beginning, going back to what we knew and didn’t know in the months and years leading up to the war. It needs to consider what circumstances constitute a real threat to the U.S. and how real threats should be dealt with. I have offered to go that route with many leftists and so-called “libertarians” who’ve come along to cry their cries of “neocon!” but in the years I’ve blogged not a single one has been willing to engage in honest debate. Not one. Doing so would mean having to concede that reasonable arguments were made on both sides, for and against war, and that either path had its own risks. Alas, that kind of measured objectivity doesn’t serve the greater goal of taking out the political competition, and so rational debate has been rejected.
Right now we are seeing the state of the world under the stewardship of the Left which, by the way, closely resembles the libertarian view. Oh they’ll cry that they’re dealing with what was left to them by Bush, but every president inherits the world of his predecessors and it is his task to apply the talents he claimed to have and make of it what he will. This isn’t 2010. Obama has had five and a half years to prove to us that the path he wanted with respect to foreign and military policy is superior to that of his political foes. I admit that I’m biased but so far I’m not impressed, to say the least. I would love nothing more than to have a crystal ball with which to see how the world would look if Ron Paul were president. Call me jaded but I suspect his supporters might find that the real world has its own way of undermining what sounds really swell in theory. Maybe “Unknown” should be thankful, because as long as the presidency remains out of reach to the libertarians no one can prove that they don’t have all the answers.