August 5, 2007

Michael Ignatieff still doesn't get it

To the Editor, New York Times Magazine:

Michael Ignatieff ("Getting Iraq Wrong," August 5) absolves his own ideology-driven mistake of supporting the Iraq war by asserting that ideology also -- not facts or reasoned analysis, or simple morality -- was behind opposition to the invasion. He caricatures anti-war voices as Bush or America haters, implying that he at least was driven by love of Bush and America.

He is still as wrong as he was then. There was one simple reason for opposing this war. It was a war of choice, not of necessity. One does not start wars. One does not invade other countries. It is the difference between self-defense and murder.

As Bush goes down in history as our most disastrous president, as our country lies in economic and social ruin in counterpoint to Iraq's physical ruin and bloodshed, Ignatieff lamely acknowledges that "a politician's mistakes are first paid by others" (and a pundit gets paid twice, first for beating the drum and then for trying to explain his mistake). But the invasion of Iraq was not a mistake. It was a deliberate aggressive act. Working in the halls of Harvard is not an excuse for pretending that war does not mean death and mayhem.

Alas, Ignatieff still longs for a "daring" leader. Has he learned nothing? What we need are daring citizens, who have not lost the habit of thinking for themselves.