This means that it’s a good occasion to remember some lingering lessons from the Iraq War. One lesson is that all of the supposedly “smart” “expert” “plugged-in” “serious” “wonks” were the ones who swallowed every possible lie and fantasy about the war, while the “fringe” “peacenik” “idealist” “freak” types who were treated with such scorn judged it on a straightforward and clear basis and were absolutely right about everything. Has there ever been such a good reminder that being at DC think turns your brain to mush? Or that treating politics as something grounded in morality and principle rather than as an intellectual game will lead you to make better conclusions?
The second lesson is that the U.S. elite is pathologically incapable of learning the first lesson. Boosting the Iraq War—in other words, making the worst judgment call anyone could have made in perhaps the last 50 years—did not turn out to be a career-ending humiliation for anyone. On the contrary: nobody cares, and the war’s biggest cheerleaders and architects are either lauded as heroic American patriots or have their faces plastered all over cable news, where they treated as cuddly sages.
This brings me to this completely wacko tweet from Bill Kristol, the infamous imperialist and warmonger whose neocon fever dreams helped lay the groundwork for the Iraq catastrophe. Kristol, naturally, suffered no consequences at all for anything I just mentioned. Nope! He’s a TV regular, a #NeverTrump hero, and just a real hoot all around.
Here’s Kristol today:
Did you catch that part where he randomly throws Cuba in????? Cuba, last I checked, is a sovereign country, but Bill Kristol is just tossing out the idea of Cuba suddenly not being that, and becoming an American state instead. Wha??
This is crazy talk, and I fail to see circumstances in which Cuba went from the way it is now to a U.S. state that didn’t involve bloodshed, but Kristol is the type of American establishment freak who has spent his entire life casually thinking about which countries we should invade in the manner that you or I might think about what to order for takeout this evening. What’s more, he’s paid no price at all for acting this way, even though the consequences have been horrifying beyond belief. If we lived in a different, better society, someone like Bill Kristol, who helped blow the entire Middle East up in ways the world is still paying for, would not be in a position to cheerfully muse about hoovering up whole countries because he feels like it. But we don’t, so here we are.