Via RCP, he says this with a tinge of resentment, as though it’s unfair to hold Bush’s mistakes against the Unicorn Prince. And now I’m wondering if maybe I’ve misunderstood the anti-war crowd for all these years. Their view of invading Iraq, I thought, wasn’t that it was an awesome idea that never should have been tasked to a smirking Hitlerian chimp like Dubya. The idea itself was fatally flawed, I took them to mean. You can’t build a liberal democracy through military might on a morass of sectarian tensions with sinister players like Iran and the Saudis meddling to their own ends. There are too many moving parts, too many unintended consequences you can’t anticipate, too much risk of being dragged in deeper than you planned. Bush’s mismanagement made things harder than they needed to be, but the anti-war take — I thought — has always been that his first and greatest mistake was the hubris of diving into Iraq in the first place.
But no, per Carville’s point about incompetence, the big lesson from Iraq is that if you’re going to hammer a Baathist known for using WMD, keep your ambitions small — at least at first — and make sure there’s a Democrat in charge. That’s what distinguishes the apples of Bush’s intervention, in which America tried to midwife a fragile Sunni/Shiite nation-state while beset by fanatics on both sides, from the oranges of O’s virtuous Syria adventure, which is … different, I guess. It’s going to work this time. Besides, like Howard Dean says, the president’s the best-informed person in all of this. If he thinks it’s safe to take the position he’s taken, there’s no reason to doubt him. The same was true of Egypt and Libya and they’re looking good these days, no? I’m sure things will work out.