Three Questions for Liberal Hawks

Jonathan Chait and Megan McArdle have sparked a wonkosphere-wide debate with two columns/posts so self-evidently ass-saving and idiotic that I was initially loath to even comment on them. Their thesis, if you haven’t heard already, is simple: “We got Iraq wrong, and the anti-invasion people got it right. But our reputations shouldn’t be diminished and theirs should be because, you know, that makes sense.” They use all kinds of straw men to show that people who were against the invasion were reflexively antiwar hippie peaceniks whose viewpoints thus don’t matter; Chait uses Jonathan Goddamn Schell as his shining example of an anti-invasion voice (apparently Brent Scowcroft, Dominique de Villepin and Hans Blix don’t count because they’re not crazy).
But I’ll play along, just for fun. Here are three questions (with sub-questions) that I’d really like to hear Chait and McArdle answer:
1. Did you honestly believe, in 2002, that there was a chance in the forseeable future of Saddam Hussein attacking the United States, either directly or through a terrorist proxy? If so, had you known at the time that Hussein had no links to al-Qaeda and only financed anti-Israeli terror groups, and even then only very indirectly and inconsequentially? If so, why the hell did you think that an attack sponsored by Iraq against America was at all likely? If not, why the hell were you doing writing about a subject that you obviously didn’t know the background facts about?
2. Did you honestly believe, in 2002, that there was a chance that the Bush administration, which was already infamous for its incompetence at economic (the tax cuts) and military (Tora Bora) management, could turn Iraq into a functioning democracy with a troop ratio a quarter of that in Kosovo and Bosnia? If so, what on earth made you think that?
3. Did you actually think that chemical and non-smallpox biological weapons (the only weapons anyone thought Hussein had in 2002) could ever kill enough people to constitute a military threat to the United States? If not, did you actually think that preventing Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons/smallpox five-ten years later (the earliest 2002-era estimated) was a worthwhile reason to launch a war and ensuing occupation? If so, did you actually think Iraq would use them?

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