Columnist Jonah Goldberg Admits: Invading Iraq Was a ‘Mistake’

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By: E&P Staff

One of the those fervent defenders of the Iraq war — and critics of those who questioned it — faced up to the setbacks in that conflict today in his syndicated column.

“The Iraq war was a mistake,” Jonah Goldberg states near the start of his column today. He reveals, “I’ve never said it before. And I don’t enjoy saying it now. I’m sure that to the antiwar crowd this is too little, too late, and that’s fine because I’m not joining their ranks anyway.”

He elaborates: “I must confess that one of the things that made me reluctant to conclude that the Iraq war was a mistake was my general distaste for the shabbiness of the arguments on the antiwar side.

“But that’s no excuse. Truth is truth. And the Iraq war was a mistake by the most obvious criteria: If we had known then what we know now, we would never have gone to war with Iraq in 2003.”

Goldberg had opened a post-invasion April 2003 column this way: “I want to rub it in the anti-war crowd’s face so badly.”

Now he writes: “The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a side issue. The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure, but calling Saddam Hussein’s bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do. Washington’s more important intelligence failure lay in underestimating what would be required to rebuild and restore post-Hussein Iraq. The White House did not anticipate a low-intensity civil war in Iraq, never planned for it and would not have deemed it in the U.S. interest to pay this high a price in prestige, treasure and, of course, lives.

“According to the goofy parameters of the current debate, I’m now supposed to call for withdrawing from Iraq. If it was a mistake to go in, we should get out, some argue. But this is unpersuasive. A doctor will warn that if you see a man stabbed in the chest, you shouldn’t rush to pull the knife out. We are in Iraq for good reasons and for reasons that were well-intentioned but wrong. But we are there.”

Later he comes to a unconventional conclusion: “I think we should ask the Iraqis to vote on whether U.S. troops should stay. Polling suggests that they want us to go. But polling absent consequences is a form of protest. With accountability, minds may change and appreciation for the U.S. presence might grow.”

The entire column can be found at and other sites.

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