On to Syria

They’ve got weapons of mass destruction. They support terrorism. Saddam is there and we’ve got to take him out.

Second verse, same as the first.

Meanwhile, David Remnick — who I believe supported this war, albeit from a reluctant-liberal perspective — comes to his senses:

The moral and political critics of a war in Iraq were surely correct to say that the worst consequence, beyond the thousands of lives lost, was the erosion of our relations with many of our allies and their publics. There is hypocrisy everywhere (Russia’s lectures on the exercise of American power seem hollow after the devastation of Chechnya), but it is long past the moment for debate, even with the French. The future is what counts. Some liberal internationalists, having seen the use of force come to a decent end in Kosovo and (finally) in Bosnia, supported this war. But among them, as among the opponents of the war, there has been a profound sense of anxiety that the Administration was recklessly indifferent to the imperfect but irreplaceable structures of international order built over sixty years.

And now, in the language of Beltway strutting, are we really to “do” Syria or Iran? Recently, in the pages of Policy Review — a conservative journal that is enjoying the vogue and influence in right-leaning circles that Commentary did in the nineteen-eighties — Ken Jowitt, a political-science professor who divides his time between the Hoover Institution and the University of California at Berkeley, challenges a “magic bullet” scenario in which the toppling of Saddam will act as a regional democratic stimulus so powerful that the Iranians will suddenly rise up against the ayatollahs, the autocrats of Egypt and Jordan will liberalize, and the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, “being an ophthalmologist, will see the regional writing on the wall.” Jowitt is rightly dubious of an ongoing evangelical adventure. He writes, “The magic bullet scenario effectively transforms and elevates a local, dangerous-but-mundane effort to remove a pathological killer, Saddam Hussein, into a successful democratic crusade that transforms the ‘last’ anti-modern, anti-democratic capitalist region of the world: the Muslim Middle East. One might at least consider the fate of earlier Western crusades.”