The Incompetence Dodge

Victory, as John F. Kennedy observed, has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan. Abandoning the orphan that is the Iraq War has clearly been a protracted, painful process for the liberal hawks, those intellectuals and pundits so celebrated back in 2003 for their courage in coming forward to smash liberal expectations and support the war. Long criticized by fellow liberals for failing, amid much hand-wringing and navel-gazing, to express clear regret over their original support for the war, these hawks have started to become a bit more vocal about their second thoughts.

The nature of their regret, however, is noteworthy -- and has tremendous significance for the debate over U.S. foreign policy after Iraq. Most liberal hawks are willing to admit only that they made a mistake in trusting the president and his team to administer the invasion and occupation competently. An August 29 New York Observer article featured a litany of semi-chastened hawks articulating this sentiment.

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