DAVIS: Confessions of an anti-Iraq War Democrat

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I remember the exact moment I had my first serious doubts about whether I was 100 percent right that the U.S. pre-emptive invasion of Iraq and the take-out of Saddam Hussein was a serious mistake.

I had been strongly opposed to the U.S. intervention from the start. I felt this way even though I believed (as did most everyone, including the intelligence community) that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and even though I thought that he was a murderous, genocidal thug and the world would be better off - and the U.S. safer - with him dead.

However, I reasoned, the WMD inspectors were back in, and we had Saddam surrounded - thanks to George Bush, by the way, for which we Democrats did not give him sufficient credit at the time.

So why risk the uncertainties of a pre-emptive invasion, loss of life and treasure, and diverting our attention from 9/11 and the war against terrorism, which most U.S. intelligence indicated had nothing to do with Saddam?

Of course, all these remain good reasons for opposing starting the war, even as I look back now.

But … then came my first moment of doubt.

I saw on TV in early 2005, in their first preliminary democratic elections, long lines of Iraqis waiting to vote under the hot desert sun with bombs and shrapnel exploding around them. Waiting to vote!

And then there was that indelible image - an older woman shrouded in a carpetlike cape, smiling gleefully and holding her purple finger in the air for the TV cameras, purple with ink showing that she had voted.

Smiling! In the middle of war! At U.S. troops standing nearby!

Wow, I thought. Is it possible I was wrong?

Is it possible, I wondered, that Iraqis truly did want democracy and freedom and the right to vote and government of the people, just as we Americans do? And were willing to fight for it, with our help?

Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Even a great thing?

Maybe another democracy, however imperfect, other than Israel in the Middle East could lead to more moderation, possibly other democracies? Democracies that could serve as bulwarks against al Qaeda-type of terrorist states?

Then in 2005-06 came the increased violence from the Sunni insurgents against American kids, then the sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shi’ites, with young Americans caught in the crossfire. My certainty in opposing the war and supporting a deadline for getting out re-emerged.

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