Sunday, November 30, 2008

Um…Tom, a revisionist?

A conundrum, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  A conundrum.

Today, over at The New York Times, Tom Friedman writes a somewhat hopeful column about an Iraqi step towards judicial independence which he sees, with several caveats, as indicative of U.S. possible success in that poor country.

Friedman’s take is gladdening in several ways, so what, you might ask, is the conundrum?  It’s this sentence: 

“It’s a reminder of the most important reason for the Iraq war: to try to collaborate with Iraqis to build progressive politics and rule of law in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, a region that stands out for its lack of consensual politics and independent judiciaries.”

Really?  Secretary of State Powell argued for an independent Iraqi judiciary and the United Nations went along with it?  National Security Advisor Rice spoke of an independent Iraqi judiciary being capable, soon, of producing a mushroom cloud?  President Bush swaggered “Bring ‘em on!” at some black robed jurists?  Neo-cons arguing for “progressive politics” in Iraq?

Dare one ask what happened to weapons of mass destruction?

Revisionism, when not referring to an arcane Marxist theory, is used these days to indicate some people are trying to re-write history to reflect a different perspective than the prevailing perspective.  One wonders if Friedman is slipping into a revisionist mode.  One hopes not.

If, indeed, there is evidence the Bush Administration truly believed that war with the Baathist government in Baghdad was dictated by a necessity to establish progressive politics, rule of law, and independent judiciary in Iraq, then it should be re-stated, and the time and place of the first such statement should be made available for verification.

If there is no such evidence, then we all need to remember the dangers of revisionist thinking—it could cost us dearly.  And Mr. Friedman needs to be a little more careful.

Trust, but verify.  And perhaps exercise the memory when reading political and or religious tracts.


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