A little more than a month ago I set to work on an article about how attacking Iraq — once a hobbyhorse of right-wing think tank intellectuals — had moved to the center of the American foreign policy debate. Clearly, President Bush’s election and 9/11 had a lot to do with the change. But neither development completely explained the shift to my satisfaction. So I launched into the project eager to skewer the various propagandists and ideologues who’ve used all manner of underhanded methods and cheap media ploys to hustle the country into a second war against Saddam Hussein.
But along the way I came to an unexpected and for me troubling conclusion. I decided that the hawks were right. By that I mean that containment isn’t working and that what the right-wingers like to call ‘regime change’ really should be our national policy. And, if necessary, we should do it by overwhelming military force. I also concluded that many of the most visible hawks really are reckless, ignorant about key issues about the Middle East, and — not that infrequently — indifferent to the truth. They have been underhanded and they have used cheap media ploys. But at the end of the day none of that changed the fact that their argument — at least in its broad outlines — held up better than that of their opponents.
Briefly stated, I changed my mind.
If you’re interested in the details, check out the article in the new issue of the Washington Monthly.