A DEEPLY FOOLISH CONSISTENCY. Jon Chait flags the core oddness of Robert Kagan�s view that changing your mind about something in light of events and new information is a form a dishonesty. The super-weird part, however, concerns Al Gore, who never favored the invasion of Iraq but stands condemned as a "one-time Clinton administration hawk" who "turned on all those with whom he once agreed about Iraq and about many other foreign policy questions."

This is just crazy. Gore "turned on" many of those "with whom he once agreed about Iraq" when many of the people he used to agree with stopped defending the Clinton-era approach to containing Saddam Hussein and started arguing for a unilateral invasion as a good solution. It certainly is an interesting fact about the world that many of the actual architects of the Clinton-era Iraq policy turned against it in 2002 and 2003, but certainly the fact that Gore didn't change his mind can't be used as evidence of flip-flopping. Kagan's view seems to be that Gore, as someone who took the hawkish side in most of the administration's internal debates about the Balkans, ought to have supported the invasion out of tribal solidarity with those people, irrespective of the merits of the question at hand.

Kagan, I note, complained in a December 24, 2002, article that "Yesterday's liberal interventionists, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, are today's liberal abstentionists," even though, when you think about it, the issues in play in those situations were totally different. Similarly, the main thrust of the article was that since Michael Walzer wrote in favor of the Desert Fox bombing raids in 1998, he was inconsistent to oppose a full-scale invasion in late 2002. This is a very strange notion of consistency and one that Kagan has consistently adhered to.

--Matthew Yglesias

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