I should be beyond surprise of this sort, but it’s still a little striking to see self-righteous dudgeon and disingenuous horseshit combined in such close proximity and copious quantity. Glenn’s reminding everyone of his “link-rich refutation” of the “revisionist” claim that democracy promotion wasn’t part of the rationale for invading Iraq.
Since most of his readers presumably were, like, alive and paying attention in the run-up to the war, I can only assume that this is a case of self deception, in which case it’s a fairly heroic instance of the phenomenon. The argument appears to be this: Since the value of ousting a despot and incubating a democracy was mentioned as a fringe benefit of removing this dire and immediate threat to American national security, anyone who regards the emphasis placed on it now as an ex-post rationalization for a mistaken policy is engaged in “revisionist history.” Look at all the speeches we can link to where Bush used the words “democracy” and “Iraq” in the same sentence!
Seriously now. We all know that this was advanced as a benefit of the invasion, but gimme a break. If someone sells you “a Porche with a nice stereo system” and you then discover you’ve actually bought a Dodge Dart, are you supposed to be mollified because it actually has had a nice stereo system installed? Democratization was supposed to be a happy side effect of eliminating the WMDs—that was why we had to do this right the fuck now before the “smoking gun” came in the form of a “mushroom cloud,” why we couldn’t keep pushing for a diplomatic solution. Anyone else remember that?
There were, of course, a few bloggers who thought that creating a democracy in the region was the best reason to go to war. But they all acknowledged at the time, at least, that this wasn’t how the war was being sold, though they acknowleded that clever folk like them could get the message by reading between the lines.
Here’s what I’d call “revisionism”: Pretending that the imminent danger of some kind of WMD attack-by-terrorist-proxy hatched in Iraq wasn’t, by an overwhelming margin, the major prong of the case for the war and a necessary condition of building public support for it. Saddam Hussein had been an evil fucker for a long, long time. How many people outside the neocon clique were clamoring for his ouster until the scare scenarios started being floated?
Addendum: And as a commenter reminds me, of course, we effectively offered all along to do nothing military if Saddam “disarmed.” How does that square with democratization being a significant reason (as opposed to a fringe benefit) for the invasion? Our own government was pretty explicit about it not being a good enough reason on its own: No WMD meant no invasion.