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October 28, 2003

MEGAN MCARDLE:

I supported the war on Iraq darn near unequivocally. I thought -- and still think -- that Saddam Hussein posed a strategic long-term threat to US interests. I thought that the only viable alternative to war, sanctions, were unspeakably cruel to the populace, while doing little to either punish Hussein, or remove him from power. And I believed that we could build a stable democracy in the Middle East. In the long run, I thought we'd all be better off. And in the short run, if it cost me some money -- well, it was a price I was willing to pay.

But my inclination to support the war rested on the assumption that once it was over, we would be ready, willing, and able to rebuild Iraq after we invaded. If we aren't going to do this, why invade in the first place? In order to convince the world that we're the superpower equivalent of a malevolent toddler who smashes anything that catches his eye? Even if you didn't support the war, isn't the folly of refusing to pay for reconstruction evident? If we pull out now, with Iraq in a shambles, we're writing Al-Qaeda's recruitment brochure for them. And we're utterly destroying any credibility we might have with the rest of the world.

But while I still think we can help Iraq transform itself into a functioning free society, I'm terribly afraid that we won't.

Bad enough that anti-war protesters -- who were terribly, terribly concerned about the plight of Iraqis before we invaded -- are now staging demonstrations to urge us to pull out immediately now that we're the only thing standing between those Iraqis and anarchy. But there are actually rumors that the White House is contemplating accelerating our departure, which seems lunatic to even discuss when the country doesn't appear to have a functioning anything.

I hope those rumors are false. Because if the White House -- by which, in this case, I mean George W. Bush -- decides to drop the ball on this, I'll probably vote Democratic, even if Kucinich is the nominee. A half-hearted war is the very, very worst kind. I think that Bush understands that. He'd better.

UPDATE: Martin Devon takes a more positive view.

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