Kevin Drum reacts to my Bill Kristol post with two posts of his own, arguing that Republicans shouldn’t be giving Democrats advice about being a loyal opposition and that Kristol seems to be setting a low bar for foreign wars.

I think Kristol is going for understatement when he says,

Not that anyone in the Democratic party is prepared to defend Saddam’s deposed regime, mind you. Or dares to propose that Iraq is worse off now that Saddam is gone. Or that America is worse off now that Saddam is gone. Or that the Middle East is worse off now that Saddam is gone.

He clearly thinks that the Iraqi people and the Middle East are far better off with Saddam gone. As do I. And, if I’ve gathered correctly from his posts over the last few weeks, so does Kevin.

That’s of course a different thing than saying that the changes wrought were worth going to war over, about which reasonable people can disagree.

I’m a bit dubious about the whole “it was a clever trap” thing. I’m not sure that Kristol meant that literally, but I certainly don’t think the Niger thing was put into the speech in order to catch the Democrats. I think they believed Saddam was dangerous and had a WMD program, wanted to put together the most compelling public case they could, and got rather carried away in how they went about it, using any damning “evidence” they could find, even if it wasn’t top drawer.

I think Kristol is right about the last part of his essay, that the Democrats ought be careful about going overboard with the “Bush lied” and “the war was for nothing” statements.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kevin Drum says:

    On rereading Kristol’s piece, I have to admit that I honestly can’t tell where he’s joking and where he’s not. It’s true that some of his wording does seem deliberately jokey, but his conclusion (that Dems are being cleverly lured into bad criticism) seems sincere.

    Too subtle for me, I guess. Perhaps the 3 Stooges are more up my alley?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Heh. I dunno. I admit, it’s a strange piece. He’s usually pretty sober, so it’s a little hard to figure out where he’s going with some of it. I usually have a good bit of context when reading his stuff because it’s usually just a column version of what he says on the various Fox News Channel panels on which he sits, but I haven’t watched much television this week.