No Need to Repent for Supporting Iraq War

By Max Boot, Commentary - March 19, 2013

The tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War has occasioned a lot of interesting and anguished appraisals. For those of us who supported the decision to invade, all such occasions present a chance for reflection on what went wrong—and right—and whether our backing for the war effort was misbegotten. Most of those who initially supported the decision to go to war—including our current secretaries of state and defense—long ago disowned their early hawkishness. For my part, I have resisted the urge to “repent,” as critics of the war effort would have it.


I should make clear that, unlike some supporters of the war effort, I would not have backed the invasion if I had known what we now know—that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. There were, to be sure, secondary reasons to act, in particular the desire to implant a democracy in the middle of the Middle East. But, while I am a firm believer in democracy promotion, I don’t believe that its spread justifies exposing our soldiers to danger unless there is an overriding threat to our own security. In the case of Iraq, it was almost universally believed prior to the invasion that such a threat existed: not just the CIA but the Mossad, MI6, and every other allied intelligence agency agreed that Saddam had WMD. Heck, even his own generals believed it—Saddam out-bluffed himself. 

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