“This isn’t conservatism,” I concluded. “It’s utopian folly and a prescription for endless war.” Although the short-term outcome wasn’t in doubt and Americans could be counted upon to rally around the troops, it struck me as almost mad to imagine that the U.S. could convert Iraq into a Middle Eastern Switzerland by force of arms.
That was basically the Frenchman’s conclusion too. Conservative Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that although “we all share the same priority—that of fighting terrorism mercilessly,” invading Iraq without just cause would likely “exacerbate the divisions between societies, cultures and peoples, divisions that nurture terrorism.”
If it were up to me, the Post columnist’s byline would read like a prizefighter’s robe: Richard “Only a Fool or a Frenchman” Cohen. However, there are no penalties in Washington journalism for being proven dramatically wrong.
The safest place during a stampede is always the middle of the herd.
My own reward was getting Dixie Chicked out of a part-time teaching job halfway through a series of columns about Iraq. Supposedly, Hendrix College ran out of money to pay me. My most popular offering had been a course about George Orwell. Oh well.
But the purpose here isn’t to blow my own horn. (OK, maybe a little.) It’s to point out that not everybody got buffaloed. Many thousands of American and European citizens took to the streets to protest what they saw as imperialist folly.
I was also very far from being the only journalist to notice that the Bush administration’s case for Saddam Hussein’s imaginary “weapons of mass destruction” didn’t add up. Anybody reading the astringent dispatches of Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, John Walcott and Joe Galloway couldn’t help but know the score.
But the prediction I’m proudest of was a cynical observation I made after morons began smashing Dixie Chicks CDs and renaming fried potatoes “Freedom Fries.”
A former Hendrix student emailed me proof: a photo of a vending machine in a rural Arkansas truckstop.
Sold only for the prevention of disease: “Freedom Ticklers.”
Copyright 2013 The National Memo