Better Never Than Late?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Better Never Than Late?

The Dutch newspapers are all carrying huge, above-the-fold headlines about the remarks of Foreign Minister Ben Bot in Parliament yesterday. Fellow members of the center-right Christian Democrats and its coalition partners were aghast when Bot appeared to say that it had been a mistake to support the invasion of Iraq. Bot is now trying to backtrack, but what struck me about the vehemence of the response is that what's apparently prohibited in the coalition isn't just saying the invasion was a bad idea, but saying there's reason to wonder whether it was a good idea.

The Dutch press has picked up on this as well. The headlines I've seen don't say "Bot Says the War Was Wrong." They use the verb twifelen, which means "doubt" or "wonder" or "question." And the damning phrase that's plastered on the newspapers was Bot's saying that supporting the invasion in 2003 was "misschien niet verstandig," which means "maybe not prudent" or "perhaps not well-advised."

So if you were thinking that the pathologies of U.S. politics were something peculiarly American, think again. In what intellectually honest discussion of the war could a pro-war person insist--after tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths; thousands of U.S. and other coalition soldiers killed or badly wounded; an insurgency that shows no signs of fading more than two years after the Mission was Accomplished; the ever-increasing animosity of much of the world, particularly the Muslim world, toward the U.S.; and, oh yeah, the complete absence of WMD or evidence of al Qaeda links--what intelligent and honest war supporter could say there was no reason to doubt that the war was right?

But in the world of politics, the Foreign Minister cannot state the obvious without putting himself on the front pages and jeopardizing his continuation in office.

Update: Bot apparently tried to make a similar point in a damage-control interview (Dutch) last night.
Bot emphasized that he never intended to abandon the Cabinet's decision to support the invasion. "I'm still completely behind that decision. But you have to be willing to take a critical look at what you're up to. We've been beating around the bush [sadly, no pun on Dubya's surname in the Dutch] much too much."

0 comments in Better Never Than Late?

Post a Comment

Better Never Than Late? | Demagogue Copyright © 2010