My latest reading of Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future, by James Carville and Paul Begala, was about national security. Essentially, Carville and Begala criticized how George W. Bush’s handled 9/11—-both the events leading up to it and also its aftermath—-and also how Republicans who never served in the military have smeared Democrats who have stellar war-records.
In this post, I’ll talk about my evolving view on the Iraq War. There was a time when I would defend George W. Bush against his detractors and haters. See this post as an example of that. Do I regret doing that? Not at all. There are two (and often more) sides to every story. Why should I assume that a left-wing narrative is the only one that’s legitimate?
Just looking at the claims that Carville and Begala made in my latest reading, I could find articles that said something different from what Carville and Begala were saying.
—-On page 93, Carville and Begala say that Cheney repeated the claim that a senior Iraqi intelligence official met with 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta in Prague, even though Czech authorities said that was false, and CIA and FBI officials investigated and found no indication that Atta left the U.S. during the time in question. For Carville and Begala, the implication of this was that Cheney was lying to get us into a war. Here, however, is Cheney’s account of why he initially believed that Atta met with the Iraqi official in Prague, only later to repudiate that view.
—-On page 95, Carville and Begala say that George W. Bush out-sourced the hunt for Osama Bin-Laden to local warlords in Afghanistan, which allowed Bin-Laden to escape. According to this article, however, information after Bin Laden’s death has shown us a different story.
—-On page 114, Carville and Begala say that “It was Democrats who stood and fought when the Bush administration tried to eliminate imminent-danger pay and family-separation pay for the 148,000 troops in Iraq.” According to this, however, the Department of Defense had “an alternative proposal to maintain total compensation for those serving in a combat zone, or in direct support of a combat zone, through increased use of Hardship Duty Pay (HDP).”
Who’s right, and who’s wrong? What’s fact, and what’s propaganda? What is a legitimate claim, and what is an unfair attack, or spin in defense of a certain position or party? I’m sure that people could go more deeply into these issues than I have done here, and than has been done in a number of discussion forums.
In my right-wing days, while I was skeptical about left-wing narratives about Bush and the Iraq War, there were seeds that were planted that led me to have second thoughts about my “yay rah Bush” attitude. I was learning about the horrors of war, as I watched TV and read stories and heard about people who had lost life and limb, and my conservative friends’ dismissal of those horrors with the platitude of “War is hell” did not cut it with me after a certain point. In 2008, I was gravitating towards John McCain and Sarah Palin, and one thing that attracted me to them was that they either served in war (in the case of McCain) or had family that was serving in war (in the case of both McCain and Palin), and that differentiated them in my mind from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who, as far as I know, did not have family in the wars (but I’m open to correction on this).
There were other factors as well: my enthusiasm about Ron Paul; my reading about anti-war conservatism; Bill Clinton’s discussion of the waste of money that was occurring in Iraq; the fact that politicians with stellar military records were speaking out against the Iraq War, and efforts to smear them were becoming old, if not tacky (which is an understatement, I know); how Halliburton was costing taxpayers a lot of money; the Iraqi woman in Fahrenheit 9/11 who lost a loved one as a result of our bombing and pleaded to Allah for justice; etc. I still believe that there is more to the story than the “Bush lied, people died” mantra that leftists used to repeat. But I concluded that there was more to reality than what I was hearing from the Bush Administration and right-wing media, too.