This may well be the first time that someone from the other side has shown any sign of understanding my opposition to the Iraq War.
As many war supporters pointed out, then and now, there were all sorts of positive developments that could have flowed from Saddam Hussein’s ouster. And over the long haul, some of them still might come to pass, despite the toll the war has taken. But the pre-war debate revolved around weapons of mass destruction for a reason: It was “the one reason everyone could agree on,” as Paul Wolfowitz famously put it, because it was the one reason for war that was premised on an immediate and tangible military objective – disarm a bad guy before he uses his weapons against you – and that didn’t depend on long-range hypotheticals about Arab democratization, an Iran-Syria domino effect, a weak horse/strong horse dynamic, and so forth. Strip away Saddam’s (supposed) rearmament and the imminent threat it (supposedly) posed, and the fact that you had nine other “here’s why this might be a good idea” reasons for war did not a strong-enough justication for war make. Military conflict is simultaneously too grave and too unpredictable to be entered into if your primary objective depends upon a chain of hypothetical second-order consequences stretching across months and years.