Wednesday, March 14, 2007
It is a sign of the thinness of Australia's public debate that there has been no such reappraisal here. With a few honourable exceptions, Australian hawks have instead done the Baghdad Shuffle. The war was right in principle but wrong in execution. The whole mess is Bush's fault, or Donald Rumsfeld's fault, or the Iraqis' fault - but it's not their fault. They move seamlessly on to the next foreign policy issue, as though the war had nothing to do with them.
American neoconservatives are also doing the Baghdad Shuffle. But the more impressive American hawks now admit there were clear warning signs before the invasion about the Bush administration's approach to intelligence, diplomacy, war-fighting and state-building. Fred Kaplan, an early supporter of the war who changed his mind before the invasion, wrote in March 2003: "If the administration lacks the acumen or persuasive power to deal with such familiar institutions as the UN Security Council or the established governments of France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, China - even Canada - then how is it going to handle Iraq's feuding opposition groups, Kurdish separatists, and myriad ethno-religious factions, to say nothing of the turbulence throughout the region?'