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The Chilcot Report: Hollow Vindication for the War's Critics

Related Link Iraq War:  HNN Full Coverage

The release today of the Chilcot Report to the British government confirmed that Prime Minister “Tony Blair deliberately exaggerated threat from Iraq.” It proved that, as early as July 2002, Tony Blair wrote to President George Bush, “I’ll be with you, whatever.”  Almost fourteen years ago, as Congress debated whether to authorize the invasion of Iraq on October 11, 2002, I commented in the Yale Daily News that “Bush’s strategy,” in persisting with plans to invade Iraq, “defies common sense.” 

Now I know why.  George W. Bush had decided to invade Iraq as early as July 2002, and nothing could stop him. He chose to ignore U.N. inspector Hans Blix’s unwillingness to confirm claims of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  He pretended that Saddam Hussein’s agreement to allow those inspectors back into Iraq was an act of continued defiance.  He fed false information to Blair and General Colin Powell. 

I woke up on October 12, 2002 to find that blogger Andrew Sullivan had awarded me the “Sontag Award for 2002, for egregious anti-Americanism in the war on terror.”  “Charming, isn’t she?” he asked. Yale Daily News comments, then loosely monitored, bristled with death threats and suggestions that I teach at Baghdad University. Daniel Pipes featured me in a syndicated story titled, “Professors Who Hate America.”

Asked in 2008 how he could have gotten the decision to invade Iraq so wrong, Sullivan remarked that he “failed to think freshly or realistically about what the consequences of intervention could be.”  He admitted a “misjudgment at the deepest moral level of what Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld were capable of.”  He concluded, “what was done to America—and the meaning of America—was unforgivable.  And for that I will not and should not forgive myself.”

Unlike Sullivan, at the time, many people did question the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.  A relentless media campaign ensued that attempted to silence them.  What was done to the meaning of America was indeed unforgivable. 

I wrote on October 11, 2002, of the pending invasion of Iraq, “Instead of standing up against tyranny, we are bringing it to our own doorstep.”   Unlike Andrew Sullivan, I was right. I only wish I had been wrong.