James Joyner watches George Will take Dick Cheney to task for not apologizing for the Iraq war in his new memoir. James:
The notion that Cheney owes us an apology is interesting. It depends entirely on whether the Bush administration took us to war knowing Saddam did not have a nuclear weapons program or simply downplayed evidence casting doubt in order to make the case for war they genuinely believed was necessary.
I don't think that's correct. The case for an apology doesn't rest on the acknowledgement of deceit. It rests on the less-indicting (morally, not legally) ground that the war was a strategic blunder. Execution, in other words, not intend. In retrospect, I think it's fair to say that even if Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of WMD and was a bosom buddy of Usama bin Laden; and then a post-Saddam occupation became everything it ultimately became -- it would be a closer call, but even then, the Iraq war probably wouldn't have been in the interests of the United States.
Absent that counterfactual, arguing the opposite is outright bizarre, even when assuming only the most generous premises for the Bush administration's intention. Results matter.
Not that anyone should expect an apology from Cheney. And the real apology, if one is owed at all, is owed from George W. Bush. The more interesting question is whether Cheney actually believes the Iraq war is in the U.S. interest, and why, as opposed to whatever he asserts in his book. But we'll probably never know the answer.