Bill Kristol does three things here: (1) suggests Bush’s tax cuts kept America’s economy from total meltdown; (2) credit Bush’s leadership for the fact that we have not had a second 9/11; and (3) totally gets silly on Iraq:
And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where – despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless “benchmark” report last week – we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome … First of all, we would have to compare the situation in Iraq now, with all its difficulties and all the administration’s mistakes, with what it would be if we hadn’t gone in. Saddam Hussein would be alive and in power and, I dare say, victorious, with the United States (and the United Nations ) by now having backed off sanctions and the no-fly zone. He might well have restarted his nuclear program, and his connections with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups would be intact or revived and even strengthened. Still, that’s speculative, and the losses and costs of the war are real. Bush is a war president, and war presidents are judged by whether they win or lose their war. So to be a successful president, Bush has to win in Iraq. Which I now think we can. Indeed, I think we will.
I keep asking this – how do these neocons define win? OK, we got rid of Saddam four years ago. But we leave our troops there. Kristol wants to do a counterfactual here – what would the place look like had we not toppled Saddam four years ago. Number one – Al Qaeda would not be there. In fact, we might have beaten Al Qaeda completely had we stayed focused on that threat and had we not given Osama bin Laden the best recruiting tool he could have ever wished for. Number two – Iran would not be the dominant player in the region. But now there are. Of course, Kristol digs into his bag of rightwing lies to suggest Saddam was working with Osama bin Laden and had an active nuclear program. But Jay Carney doesn’t even need to go there to mock the most recent stupidity from Kristol:
Blowing past years of disastrous mismanagement of the war, Kristol says that Bush will ultimately be viewed a winner because “we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome” in Iraq. Now, even if you believed from the beginning that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam was the right thing to do. And even if you’ve never wavered from those convictions. And even if you argued last winter that more troops were necessary and that “surging” was the right thing to do. And even if you insist that there have been some modest – very modest – signs of improvement in a few (not many!) areas of Iraq in the past few months, wouldn’t you be deluding yourself, and testing the gullibility of your readers (given the cumulative experience of the past four-plus years, and all the mistaken predictions you and others had made about how well things were going in Iraq), if you suddenly decided that these few modest signs of improvement somehow proved that a) “we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome”, and b) Bush’s presidency will therefore be judged a success? What’s next? Promises that Iraqis will welcome new rotations of American G.I.’s with roses? Assurances that the next $200 billion in war costs will be paid with Iraqi oil revenue?
Jay? Jay? What’s this $200 billion? Bill Kristol predicted back in 2002 that the Iraq invasion would cost only 0.1% to 0.2% of one year’s worth of GDP. That’s about $20 billion.