A recovering wingnut sees the light

This is a most unusual and extraordinary post. A former self-proclaimed “lizard” and “anti-idiotarian” in Europe confesses that what LGF and Michelle and the like hath wrought goes exactly counter to what America needed to achieve in the wake of 911. Considering that the writer was not that long ago a serious and strident advocate of the war in Iraq who aligned himself with the “warbloggers,” it’s nothing short of astonishing. It’s tone is somehow calm yet urgent, poignant and blisteringly logical. It reminds us of just how noble a thing it can be to be “for the war before we were against it.” In other words, changing your mind and reshaping your opinion can be a sign of maturity and wisdom, not cowardice and treason.

Anyone who argues for war plays with dangerous forces, so they must do it responsibly or not at all. Foolish wars have led countries to disaster. They have caused the deaths of millions. History and psychology tells us that war parties tend to be over-confident, paranoid and emotional. So the minimum you should expect from a responsible war supporter is that they are aware of this bias, and do their best to counterbalance it.

It’s not enough to believe that you are right. You have to be actively open-minded, you have to listen to your critics, and encourage devil’s advocates. You have to set up a robust information structure that makes it as difficult as possible for you to ignore reality. This is the only good way to prevent self-deception. It works. And we did not do it.

What we did was the opposite. At every level, from the lowliest blogger to the highest official, war supporters set up filters that protected them from facts they did not want to hear. We saw what we wanted to see, and if anyone saw differently, we called them left-wing moonbats who were rooting for the other side. We defined the entire mainstream media establishment as irrelevant, leaving more biased, less experienced “new” media as our primary source of facts. We ignored reasonable critics, and focused on the crazy ones, so that we could tell ourselves how incredibly smart we were.

Among the bloggers there was a sense that there were all these brilliant people, who knew so much about history, war and society, who had previously been without the tools to express themselves. Thanks to the wonders of amateur media, we could now finally exploit this huge reservoir of expert knowledge. And when you contrasted the lazy neutrality of the old media with the energy of the new, it certainly could seem that way. Here were people who regularly would write thousands of words about the historical context of Islamist terrorism, who could write brilliantly about freedom and democracy, who commented boldly on the long trends of history. How could such people be wrong?

But what we saw was not expert knowledge, but the well-written, arrogantly presented ideas of half-educated amateurs. This, too, went all the way from the bottom to the top. It often struck us how well the writing of the best of the bloggers measured up to that of pro-war pundits and intellectuals. We thought this showed how professional the amateurs were, when what it really told us was how amateurish the professionals were.

Retraction is never an easy thing to do and I give this writer very high marks for doing so with such fortitude and eloquence. Instead of an emotional mea culpa, it is a step by step walk-through of all the dreadful, tragic errors we made in the September 11th’s wake, and how the vitriolic call for vengeance clouded our better judgment and led us into the mouth of hell, where we find ourselves today.

Please check out the entire long essay. It’s a rare blog post that keeps me thinking about it throughout the day, This one definitely did, and then some.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

What it boils down to is that reality hit him. He stopped living in the fierce ideological world of right-wing imagination, and started looking at what was actually happening. I wonder what made him change? BTW, your reply to him was double-posted.

March 2, 2007 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

I wonder what made him change too.


March 3, 2007 @ 7:26 am | Comment

I was a war supporter but I’m feeling much better now.

I can tell you what changed my mind, it’s what we didn’t do. I didn’t vote for Bush, in fact I’ve never voted for a Republican but I thought there were good reasons for going to war in Iraq. As soon Saddam tossed out weapons inspectors in the 1990s I thought we had every right to start dropping bombs on military targets. I believed that Saddam was developing WMD and believed that if he could have gotten such weapons or technology to people who would actually use them against the US, and not get caught in the process, that he cetainly would have (I still believe that actually). Sure, he PROBABLY wouldn’t have done since it was high risk but do you really want to bet millions of lives on “he probably wouldn’t do that?”

Bush was a new president, we really hadn’t seen him in action but most presidents even if they don’t completely rise to the occassion, are at least adequate. Surely, he wouldn’t be so committed to destroying Iraq that he would fabricate EVERY reason for going to war?

When we went to war, I just assumed that we would be following the Powell Doctrine (Powell was Secretary of State after all) and use more than enough troops and power. I just assumed that since we were choosing to break this country we, as a responsible nation, would re-build in the way we re-built Japan and Germany. I assumed wrong.

I started having doubts when I saw Bush posing in a flight suit on the deck of a carrier. I knew he shouldn’t be using a war for that kind of political spectacle.

By the time it was clear that Iraq didn’t have WMD and the current chaos had kicked off I was still in favor of staying because I still thought there was some hope that our crappy postwar planning could be fixed. Americans are nothing if not flexible and inventive.

I finally lost all hope after the last presidential election. It had long been clear to me that in addition to lying about why we went to war, the people in charge had no interest in or the necessary character to fix the mess they had made. My last hope was that we could get rid of Bush and get some responsible leadership. That didn’t happen either.

So, I was wrong too. I got fooled and I’m kind of embarrassed about it.

March 5, 2007 @ 5:15 pm | Comment

Any other closet early-on war supporters want to make a confession?

March 5, 2007 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

Well, I was very briefly in favor, mainly on humanitarian grounds. I thought Saddam was among the most murderous louts on the planet (which he was) and that we should have finished the job the first time. Now I see that Bush 1 was right, the warring factions were too unpredicatable. I lost all my faith very shortly after Mission Accomplished, when I saw security break down. That was the beginning of the end – we had no plan for a secure occupation. We had no hope.

March 5, 2007 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

To anyone who clicks on the link to the vile, slanderous bullshit story offered above by my wingnut friend Gordon (TPD is an all-inclusive community), be sure to read this excellent fisking, by yet another warblogger! Gordon, you really have to be more discriminating.

March 5, 2007 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

hehe..come on Richard, where’s your sense of humor? ๐Ÿ˜‰

March 6, 2007 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

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