What Does Andrew Sullivan Regret?

I believed there were weapons of mass destruction. I actually bought the argument that if we democratized Iraq, we could create a space for venting some of the stuff that’s going on in the Middle East in these autocratic regimes that is expressing itself through jihadism, because it has nowhere else to express itself. … I was wrong. And as a writer in a blog online, you have nowhere to hide. … I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t acknowledge I’d been wrong.

—Andrew Sullivan, celebrating his blog’s 10-year anniversary with an acknowledgment his support for George W. Bush’s Iraq war was a gross mistake [via; photo via]

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  • Lefty

    The beard?
    Does he regret the beard?

  • Samwise

    Too soon to regret the beard. He soon will, though.

    I have to say, I am impressed that he’s capable of admitting he was wrong. Most conservative commentators can’t do that, and they’ve got as much of a paper trail as he has. Of course, he calls himself liberal these days, so that might have something to do with it.

  • Fitz

    Does he regret barebacking for the guy who poz’d him? (I think he is poz. right?.. if not– my mistake, I just seem to remember that).

  • ChicagoJimmy

    Does he regret the lives that were lost? Does he regret the pain and torture that thousands will now live through the rest of their days because of injury to mind and body? Does he regret the billions of dollars wasted on this foolish plan to establish democracy with war?

    He is surely responsible. He carried water for Bush and Co. and helped convince a divided public that war was the answer.

    Has he written letters of apology to the families of all the dead soldiers and Iraqis? Think not.

  • the crustybastard

    Everybody on the UN Security Council knew Saddam had nuclear, biological and chemical programs because nearly every country at the table had sold that crap to him to make a few bucks for the folks back home. Saddam also used chemical weapons on several recent occasions, so there wasn’t any question he had WMDs, the question was always what type, in what quantity, and where are they at?

    Saddam chose not to cooperate with the UNSCOM inspectors. That created further mistrust at the UNSC. Saddam’s response was, “I got rid of ’em, and you’ll just have to take my word for it.” But that wasn’t the deal he’d previously agreed to, per the terms of the ceasefire arising from Saddam’s Excellent Kuwaiti Adventure.

    From the time the UN started threatening consequences for his obfuscation, until the consequences were delivered, Saddam had about a year to conceal or destroy any damning evidence. It would have been foolish of him not to seize that opportunity. He was not a fool, and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    If the UN wants to be involved in settling international disputes then it needs to compel parties to agreements to comply with their agreements, and it must follow through on its threats. Otherwise brinksmen like Saddam will prove the UN to be as toothless as a quilting circle. If the UN is too timid to follow through, they really need to get out of the business of trying to strongarm despots into behaving with some semblance of basic human decency.

    With the omniscience of retrospect, it would seem that Saddam’s WMD programs probably were never as advanced as even Saddam believed they were, because program heads noticed pretty quickly that they stayed alive by telling Saddam what Saddam wanted to hear. But if those program heads were better at science than they were at lying, things in the region might be very much worse, and critics might rightly be wondering why America couldn’t be bothered to act when they had the chance. After all, it’s a fact that Saddam had engaged in wars that he had provoked during all but two years of his reign. He was a sociopathic thug, and bullying his neighbors to death was his business.

    None of this is to say that the UN, US, its agents and its allies acted beyond reproach and made no mistakes. It is only to say that if you’re going to be an interventionist, you’re going to screw up as much as you get right — such is the Law of Unintended Consequences. However, if you’re NOT going to be an interventionist, you’re going to have to shrug indifferently when atrocities like Darfur are committed, and lie to yourself that there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • badlydrawnbear

    @ChicagoJimmy … if you read Andrew blogs regularly you would have read that he does regret all those things and has acknowledged all of them at some point.

    Andrew endorsed John Kerry in 2004 and has doggedly chased Bush and Cheney for their roles in torture, war crimes, and attacks on American’s civil liberties.

    He regularly goes after fundamentalist christian organizations for being just as much a threat to America and it’s democracy as fundamentalist islam.

    I often disagree with Mr. Sullivan but he has shown time and again that he is not a partisan conservative.

    @Fitz … you may want to realize that a large number of readers on queerty and people around the world are HIV+ for a wide variety of reason and that demonizing them only hurts the effort to contain HIV and treat those who have been exposed to the virus, how ever the contracted it.

  • Brandon H

    To the war supporters turned commie pinko liberals:

    There were people marching in the fucking streets trying to stop this war because it was an OBVIOUS LIE!

    There was none of this “Oh we weren’t sure at the time, hindsight is 20/20” bullshit. You shouted and manipulated those of us who knew better all so you’d have a hole to jizz your collective anger into about 9/11, which is EXACTLY what the machiavellian Bush/Cheney Administration wanted. The data was there and you were fucking warned.

    But now ya’ll want to say “Oh, my bad” and pretend like it’s all ok?

    Fuck you!

    Signed, A Commie Pinko Liberal when it mattered.

  • ChicagoJimmy

    @badlydrawnbear: Well good for him. I hope his guilty conscience has been assuaged. I’m sure the families of all the dead American soldiers and dead Iraqi citizens are comforted by his words of regret.

    Sorry, I just don’t forgive some things so easily. As Brandon H points out in comment #7, there were a whole hell of a bunch of us that were pretty certain that this war was unnecessary and actaully took to the streets to protest. Andrew seems like a pretty smart fella, so I’m not sure why he was so fooled by Bush and Co. He must have had some motivation for taking the side he did, but regardless I can’t trust a person who peddles his opinion for a living and was so terribly wrong about something so important.

    @Brandon H: Sing it out, sister!

  • Queer Supremacist

    That’s Andrew Sullivan? I thought it was Mr. Belvedere.

    This anti-semitic limey papist went from calling from the invasion of Iraq (I oppose the EXISTENCE of Iraq, never mind what I think about the war, which didn’t go far enough) to calling for the invasion of Israel. He has no principles; he just got tired of being spat on at parties on Dupont Circle.

    Crustybastard, thanks for your sober analysis on the war. Saddam was a blowhard who exaggerated the capacities of his WMD program. And he was indeed a monster. But that would mean giving a Republican president the benefit of the doubt. The roving bands of thugs attacking gays in Iraq are nothing compared to what Saddam and his two depraved sons did to all people he didn’t like. And it makes me sick to hear the revisionist view that Saddam Hussein did not make things bad for gays. Before he was deposed, homosexuality was made illegal. That country was put together with spit and scotch tape by British cartographers and naive League of Nations idealists.

    I have no concern for the human rights of the inhuman. The Husseins of Iraq and the Ba’ath Party were inhuman. But they were small potatoes compared to Iran and Ahmadinejad, who are also inhuman and deserve everything bad that happens to them and then some. If they or any “country” like them threaten us again, fuck nation building, let’s just destroy them. Fuck with the West, die like the rest.

    I watched in horror and tears as the terrorist murderers attacked the towers on 9/11 in the name of Islam, which means “submission,” as in submission to the will of Allah. Does Allah believe killing innocent people in his name is okay? Does Allah believe in killing gay people and suppressing women’s rights? If so, then we’ve got a real conflict between the freedom and liberty that Western secular values have provided and the backwards beliefs of terrorists. And I will fight for Western secular values. The War on Terrorism is a war on those beliefs and those who impose those beliefs by force. Obama took the coward’s way out and tries the Neville Chamberlain approach. It didn’t work with Hitler, either.

  • Richard

    The fun of Sullivan has always been watching him slowly come to realize that the Republicans are not the Tories, that the US is not Britain and that the dream of his childhood is the nightmare of his adulthood. Given the almost glacial speed of this realization despite everything he’s seen, I can’t help but wonder if its all a jaded act of showmanship.

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