Blogs > Cliopatria > Cohen, and why we went to war.

Feb 3, 2004 10:40 am

Cohen, and why we went to war.

Richard Cohen has written a fascinating op-ed for the Washington Post on “truth commissions” and the reasons we went to war in Iraq.

I’ll clip this quote to give a sense of it:

A consensus -- based on false facts, outright lies and exaggerated fears -- took over the nation. We didn't go on a bender, as we did after Pearl Harbor, and incarcerate a particular ethnic group, but we did go to war when we plainly did not have to. More than 500 Americans and thousands of Iraqis have died for a mistake. Peace has not been brought to the Middle East and America is not only no safer than it was, it may well be in even greater danger. This was no mere failure of intelligence. This was a failure of character.

In short, he argues that far too many Americans, himself included, were willing to be swept away by the call of war. This does not exonerate the Bush Administration; he makes that clear. They were, at minimum, guilty of a “smug” and willful blindness.

But—to conclude with another quote:

if for a moment we think that it was the CIA alone that took us to war, then we will have learned nothing from what happened. That would be the gravest intelligence failure of them all.

I think he’s got a point.

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