Was TNR Wrong? Duh.

Robert Dreyfuss

June 18, 2004

In a hilarious attempt at self criticism, “The Editors” at The New Republic have excreted a piece called “Were We Wrong?” (Their answer: No.) You have to read this nonsense for yourself. But here is the flavor of it, from the editors of what might be The Worst Magazine in the World.

They do admit: “The central assumption underlying this magazine's strategic rationale for war now appears to have been wrong.” (They’re referring to the idea that Iraq was busily building a nuclear weapon.) Duh. Everyone with any sense knew that before the war. Those with no sense figured it out a few weeks after the war. Then there is TNR, just realizing it now.

“Should we have known that the key assumption underlying our strategic rationale for war would prove false?” ask TNR’s editors, plaintively. Well, okay, says TNR , there were lots of people shouting that Iraq didn’t have nukes, or even a live program, and maybe “in retrospect, we should have paid more attention to these warning signs. But, at the time, there seemed good reason not to.” (I can think of one “good reason”: Marty Peretz is a pro-Israel warmonger.) Anyway, for having followed Mr. Peretz down the garden path: “We feel regret--but no shame.” No—shame is foreign to TNR’s war fanatics. Why? Because “if our strategic rationale for war has collapsed, our moral one has not.”

So. We are getting lectures on moral causes for war from TNR.

Meanwhile, one of TNR’s scribblers has come out blasting “realism.” This impressionist is none other than that Bill Kristol wanna-be, Lawrence F. Kaplan. In last week’s issue, Kaplan goes after the emerging realist consensus (on which, see my next item, below). “With Iraq awash in violence, foreign policy realism is the rage in both the Bush and Kerry camps. But can realists really fight the war on terrorism?” asks Kaplan. In a silly piece called “Springtime for Realism,” Kaplan struggles (and fails) to defend the pro-war clique’s views. He cites recent Bush criticism of “realists” who have “lost contact with a fundamental reality,” and opines: “Trouble is, the very realists whom President Bush decries are now running his foreign policy.” (That, of course, is plainly false: a few would-be realists are trying to clean up the mess that The New Republic’s friends created in Iraq, and not very well—while the neocons, at last count, are still all in place.)  

Maybe it’s time for mass resignations from TNR. Any takers?