My name is J. Edward Tremlett... and I am a useful idiot.
It's weird that The American Partisan's absence from regular publishing has been a sideways mirror of my own disappearance from regular commentary. I tried to put it down to a move back to America, working full time again and trying to explore other writing venues... but the more I think about it the more I realize my political silence has been self-imposed.
Put bluntly, I've been wracked with shame over what I've said and what I've advocated concerning our actions in Iraq, and why. I think it's time to fess up - I f%^&ed up, and badly. And it's time I cleared the air and apologized.
I went from being against a war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq to being enthusiastically in favor of one in less than a year. It wasn't a turn on a dime, either: I slipped down a slope over the course of a few months that had me saying no, then maybe, and then yes with reservations. And once I hit bottom I was impatiently calling for hostilities to commence so we could get it over with.
With what I "knew" then, in 2003, that statement was self-evident. With what I know now - knowing that what I knew then was false, misleading or wishful thinking - that statement is a craw I've been choking on for almost four years.
Knowing what I know now, I reject entirely the notion that the world is safer with Saddam Hussein out of power, and now dead. Better? Maybe. But safer? No.
If anything, we've given our enemies a handy target, and increased their numbers. We've destabilized the region and given the fence-sitters of the Muslim world reason to think that the radicals were right all along.
Far from putting the fear of the Gods into Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda, we've empowered them.
So yes, I was wrong. I screwed up. I acted as a cheerleader for a war that was unnecessary and counterproductive. I shrugged off the notion of civilian casualties, friendly fire, and incoming opportunists as "things that happen." I got on my knees and thanked higher powers that it was "over," and we'd "won," when in fact the troubles were just beginning.
I wasn't the only one who did these things, but I far expect better out of myself.
How does that make me any better than some Al-Qaeda planner in a cave? Really?
You see, we all came to an important, harsh realization on 9/11. We realized that terrorism wasn't something that just happened overseas in countries we couldn't find on a map, but something that could happen anywhere - even to us. We realized we had to change the way we thought about it, because we now realized that we weren't safe. And we realized that we had to do something about it.