A last word on Iraq.
The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq will always be for me one of the few outstanding examples of what Barbara Tuchman called "unwisdom in government." And like Paul Krugman, writing below on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I also will never forgive or forget.
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?
Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
After much neo-con caca hit the fan, Krugman elaborated a bit the next day:
It looks as if I should say a bit more about yesterday’s anniversary. So:
The fact is that the two years or so after 9/11 were a terrible time in America – a time of political exploitation and intimidation, culminating in the deliberate misleading of the nation into the invasion of Iraq. It’s probably worth pointing out that I’m not saying anything now that I wasn’t saying in real time back then, when Bush had a sky-high approval rating and any criticism was denounced as treason. And there’s nothing I’ve done in my life of which I’m more proud.
It was a time when tough talk was confused with real heroism, when people who made speeches, then feathered their own political or financial nests, were exalted along with – and sometimes above – those who put their lives on the line, both on the evil day and after.
So it was a shameful episode in our nation’s history – and it’s one that I can’t help thinking about whenever we talk about 9/11 itself.
Now, I should have said that the American people behaved remarkably well in the weeks and months after 9/11: There was very little panic, and much more tolerance than one might have feared. Muslims weren’t lynched, and neither were dissenters, and that was something of which we can all be proud.
But the memory of how the atrocity was abused is and remains a painful one. And it’s a story that I, at least, can neither forget nor forgive.
As EB readers know, I've often been at my wits' end over Krugman's faulting Obama for not being perfect - for not being, well, Paul Krugman. But it was Krugman and Eric Alterman who kept me grounded in the reality-based universe in the years following the botched 2000 "election." No matter what they have to say in future, I'll always be grateful to them for that.
An Inquiry Into the Persistence of Unwisdom in Government. (Barbara W. Tuchman, Journal of the U.S. Army War College) Tuchman's brilliant essay came to my attention when it first appeared as a lecture at the U.S. Military Academy in 1979, reprinted in Esquire.
Paul Krugman's allegation of 9/11 shame - is he right? (Greg Sargent, WaPo)
The miserable decade of lost opportunity following 9/11. (George Packer, New Yorker)
Rumsfeld Tweets that he's cancelled his NYT subscription over the Krugman blog post. (@RumsfeldOffice) This is just too amusing. The NYT''s one anti-Iraq-war editorial was so mushy I had to read it four times to grasp what the paper's editorial board was trying to say. Meanwhile, on the paper's front page, Judith Miller was shilling for the Pentagon on Saddam's vast cache of WMD, with the zealous encouragement of then-executive editor Howell Raines and publisher and close personal friend Arthur Sulzberger Jr. And who knew Donald Rumsfeld read the NYT? (Greg Sargent wonders too, saying Rumsfeld "claims" to have cancelled his subscription.) I pegged Rummy and Cheney as lost in the woods without guidance from the Moonie Washington Times.
Here's Rummy's Tweet:
And here's the largest photo I could find of the one man to have served as both the youngest and later the oldest - and forever among the least competent - U.S. secretaries of defense. Gosh, how he's shrunk with age and over-exposure.