Root Causes

So I was catching up with my BloggingHeads after my trip and was struck by a point Matt Yglesias makes near the end of this segment. John Edwards, Matt points out, disavowed his support for the war in Iraq not because the war’s fundamental premise (i.e. that it’s somehow a good idea to mount a full-scale invasion of a country just because it has biochemical weapons) was totally wrong, but because the factual underpinning of that premise (that Iraq had biochemical weapons) was wrong, and that he should have been more skeptical of the intelligence that suggested that said premise was right. Suffice it to say, this should count as a substantial mark against Edwards (and Hillary) and a substantial mark in favor of Obama, whose initial opposition to the war was based on an understanding that the mere possession of not-terribly-threatening weaponry by an unfriendly government does not render that government an imminent threat to American security, that said possession should not trigger a massive military response, and that the costs of such an invasion/occupation would far outweigh the benefits. Obama’s position is much farther removed from the Bush doctrine than that of Edwards, who more or less embraces the doctrine in its entirety, objecting only to the war’s handling and to the intelligence used to promote it. Inasmuch as the next presidential term will serve as the beginning of a process of undoing (or trying to undo) the damage done by Bush to America’s standing in the world, electing a president who understands just how fundamentally rotten Bush’s policy framework is will be essential.

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