Sorry seems to be the hardest word...for American politicians
Britain's Tony Blair says he's sorry for the poor handling of the war in Iraq. Why haven't George W. Bush, Dick Cheney done the same?
Guess who's back. Back again. OK, it's me, but for reasons too boring to explain, what I like to call "full service blogging" -- long boring liberal diatribes that get slammed by dozens of commenters who only read the first paragraph -- won't resume until tomorrow. I did want to highlight, however, this story that made news over the weekend, and what it says about the difference between politics here in the U.S. compared to more respectable corners of the globe:
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he's sorry for "mistakes" made in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but he doesn't regret bringing down dictator Saddam Hussein.
"I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought," Blair said in an exclusive interview on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS that airs Sunday.
Blair was referring to the claim that Saddam's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was used by the U.S. and British governments to justify launching the invasion. But the intelligence reports the claim was based on turned out to be false.
The ensuing war and dismantling of Saddam's government plunged Iraq into chaos, resulting in years of deadly sectarian violence and the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq, a precursor of ISIS. Tens of thousands of Iraqis, more than 4,000 U.S. troops and 179 British service members were killed in the lengthy conflict.
So on one hand, kudos to CNN for coaxing that admission from Blair; it won't change the outcome, of course, for that tens of thousands that we lost, including more than 4,000 American troops and countless innocent civilians. But an apology and admission of errors is one important baby step on the road to saner policies in that war-torn corner of the world. Can you imagine George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld apologizing for their role in this human catastrophe?
But it would also be a mistake to give all of the credit to Tony Blair's humanitarian instincts. That's because the real reason that Blair apologized in that CNN interview is because he had to. A British panel of inquiry into the war, called the Chilcot commission, is preparing to release a report that's expected to slam authorities both in the UK and here in these United States for both the shoddy case for the 2003 war as well as the inadequate planning for its aftermath.
So maybe there's been no accountability here because there's been no credible investigation. Because here in America, we're all about looking forward, not back. That sounds good -- except with no one held responsible for the crimes and misdemeanors of the early 2000s, it's all but guaranteed that America will keep making on the same mistakes, making every day Back to the Future Day.