Ari Fleischer has taken to Twitter to defend his former boss George W. Bush from accusations of lying America into the Iraq War. As Matt Shuham amply shows elsewhere on TPM, Fleischer was quickly and thoroughly demolished by critics. Fleisher’s hapless performance got me thinking about how the debate over the Iraq War, the most consequential American foreign policy decision in the last fifty years, is now over.
The only people still defending the Iraq War are those whose personal reputation is tied up with it, as with Fleischer. And Fleischer is doing so on narrow grounds, saying that the claims about WMDs weren’t lies but honest mistakes based on assessments by the intelligence agencies. But leave aside those who are tainted by the war and what do we see? The current President is a Republican and he has repeatedly described the Iraq War as a “disaster.” One of the factors that led to Trump’s rise was that he was less tainted (or at least seen to be less tainted) by the policies of Bush administration than other Republicans.
As against Fleischer’s sophistry in defense of his own reputation, consider the clarity of Elizabeth Warren, on both the war itself and where we go from here:
16 years ago today, the US invaded Iraq. The costs of that mistake are staggering: 4,751 brave Americans killed, tens of thousands more wounded, untold civilian casualties. We owe it to our service members to do better. Time to bring our troops home and end these endless wars. https://t.co/Zhi8PVNUeh
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 20, 2019
The debate on Iraq is truly over. We can brush aside the dead-enders.