Mitt Romney's Underwear --- Plus Antiwar Groupthink

[Have a question for Stumped? Send it here. Questions may be edited.]

Dear Stumped,
Bill Clinton was asked whether he wore boxers or briefs. Now I want to know if Mitt Romney always wears his secret Mormon underwear. Have you ever seen the tell-tale underwear line that all Mormons look for in other Mormons?
-- A curious non-Mormon

Dear Curious Non-Mormon,
I hope we never know the answer to your question. Whether Mormons opt to wear the traditional "temple garment" under their clothing, symbolizing their covenant with God, is a personal issue, and I don't think it ceases being a personal issue when you run for president. And no, I don't think the "boxers or briefs" question put to Bill Clinton when he ran for president deepened our understanding of him or his candidacy.

Of course, Mitt Romney was dealing with more profound questions yesterday in his speech on the role of religion in American life. Romney's burden is that many secular-minded Americans are suspicious that he may be too religious, and many religious-minded Americans, especially evangelicals, are suspicious of his religion.

So how did Romney do yesterday? Since you asked? I think he did exactly what he had to do -- no more and no less. Much like John F. Kennedy in 1960, he made clear that as president he wouldn't take orders from his church, whose authority "ends where the affairs of the nation begin." He also stood up for religion generally -- with a passing shot on the supposed war on Christmas -- in trying to make common cause with evangelicals, without quibbling over doctrinal differences.

It would be more satisfying (or merely entertaining?) to watch Romney forcefully take on his religion's critics, but there is little upside for Romney in becoming the national explainer/defender of Mormonism. He is wise to avoid getting into such questions as the true location of the Garden of Eden or, yes, whether he wears the "temple garments."

Dear Stumped,
Conventional wisdom is that Iraq was a debacle, fiasco, really bad, etc., etc. So, what would have happened if we hadn't invaded and deposed Saddam?
John Birkhold
P.S. Why do we feel the need to say, "etc., etc." vs. just "etc."?

Dear John,
Your p.s. is most illuminating. I think we say "et cetera" only once when we are saying something original, but we say "et cetera, et cetera" when we are saying something familiar, maybe even too familiar, to the listener or reader. "Etc., etc.," brings to mind a rolling of the eyes, the tiresome, garbled speech of adults in the "Peanuts" series, the "yadda, yadda" of the famous Seinfeld episode, etc. (Or should that be etc., etc.?)

So your use of the double "et cetera" is revealing, as it suggests that all right-minded people have digested the same cant of what Iraq is supposed to have become -- fiasco, quagmire and so on, to a point where it is no longer necessary to spell it out.

On to your first question. The short answer is, I don't know what would have happened if we had stayed out of Iraq. To examine just one plank of the conventional wisdom, Iran is usually cited as a clear winner in Iraq. But it's worth speculating: Would Tehran have stopped working on its nuclear weapons program, as we now know it has, if Saddam were still in power? Conversely, if it was the fall of Saddam that emboldened Iran to be a bigger regional player, do we owe recent hopeful developments, like the Annapolis conference, to a broadening concern over Iran's growing influence?

All I'm saying is that there are plenty of unintended consequences out there. I suspect it will take history a long time to sort them all out, and the picture will be a lot more mixed than the antiwar conventional wisdom suggests.

Look at the transatlantic alliance, for instance. The arrogance of the Bush administration in pursuing this war was supposed to have forever weakened transatlantic solidarity. Yet we now have leaders in both France and Germany who were elected in part to reverse policy and improve ties with Washington.

In terms of domestic politics, it is impossible to divine what might have happened without the Iraq war, in part because it is impossible to divine what would have instead soaked up this administration's energies. Because of where things now stand, I don't think the Iraq war will be the decisive issue in 2008. And in 2004, perhaps, it was too early for it to have been enough of an issue to dislodge Bush (unlike in 2006, when it dislodged the GOP's congressional majority). This leaves me with the unsatisfying conclusion that Iraq may not be the defining issue in any presidential election. That can't be right. Can it? (I'm happy to elucidate this point -- ask me about it!)

P.S. (Which, as we know, are often revealing.) Critics of the war are quick to mock the "groupthink" in Washington that got us involved in this conflict. But today's antiwar "groupthink" can be equally dangerous. Even former President Bill Clinton, who sounded very much like he supported the war at the time we invaded Iraq, is trying to retroactively embrace the antiwar script, preposterously saying he opposed the war all along.

Such a distorting caricature of the underlying issues could make it all the more difficult for a future president to engage in necessary, justifiable military engagements. Certainly, the liberal impulse to engage in humanitarian interventionism, the notion embraced by Tony Blair and Kofi Annan in the aftermath of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and genocide in Rwanda, must be counted among the most prominent victims of the Iraq war.

Don't get me wrong. An incompetent Bush administration (including Condoleezza Rice, who too often gets a pass in the apportioning of blame) is to blame for mishandling the war. But we shouldn't allow that to cloud the context in which the decision to go to war was made. There is a reason Hillary Clinton voted to allow George Bush to go to war. Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe.

By Andres Martinez |  December 7, 2007; 12:00 AM ET
Previous: The Stumped Guide to the Candidates and the War | Next: How Much Should George Bush Get Paid?


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Mormons aren't much different from other groups in that we wear religious clothing. Unlike most, however, we were our religious vestments underneath our clothing as an inward commitment of the promises we make to God.

Learn what a Mormon believes and does by listening to a Mormon.

Posted by: Kurt Manwaring | January 9, 2008 1:58 PM

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll

New YouTube Video!
The Only Poll That Matters.
Results Posted Tuesday Evening At Midnight.

Posted by: votenic | December 19, 2007 3:50 PM

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll

New YouTube Video!
The Only Poll That Matters.
Results Posted Tuesday Evening At Midnight.

Posted by: votenic | December 19, 2007 3:48 PM

If Clinton had done her homework as a senator and read the classified NIE document, which only a handful or senators did (all of whom vote against the war resolution), she would have likely voted against the war resolution as well.

What I don't get is why people consider voting for a Presidential candidate who didn't do her homework then and helped get is into a bogus war. What makes you think she will do her homework as President?

Has she ever even apologized for not reading the NIE? Admitted that that was a critical mistake and she learned her lesson?

She isn't the only Senator not fit to be President.

Posted by: Bob | December 12, 2007 5:03 PM

America has a childish fixation (or fetish) on underwear.

We need to ask ourselves (and Mr. Romney) what is the Mormon Church's Plan For Unity? It is the Mormon governmental organization, set up to assume control of the United States, in the event of calamitous collapse of the United States government. Mr. Romney has the answers to many questions he has not yet been asked. There will be no nonsense under The Plan For Unity.

Posted by: Albert F. Pate | December 11, 2007 2:14 PM

Hey, Mitt i'm not old enough to vote and i wouldn't any way! So my Question to you is: What do you think about the Iraq War? Do you think that Busch should have went over there to start it? Anyway you probably want to know more about me before you answere these questions. i am a thirteen year old girl that lives on Lopez Island. i have two siblings and i hate school but i want to be a pediatrician so i love school!

Posted by: Rebecca Shawley | December 10, 2007 4:04 PM

"Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe."

Going into Iraq was your brain on jingoism. That is the ultimate "groupthink". The reason Clinton and others voted for the war resolution was because they knew that jingoism is often a winner among people like you who can't think independently. The people who did not succumb to jingoism got it right then.

You were wrong then and you are wrong now - you were "groupthinking" then and you are "groupthinking" now.

Posted by: skeptonomist | December 10, 2007 11:30 AM

Capemh, I ask you exactly who is a lot worse
than Saddam Hussein?
They don't come any worse than Saddam

Posted by: Billy Bob | December 10, 2007 11:24 AM

It's funny, we say we want a leader but when we get one groupthink decideds we want someone in office that does daily polls. When all is said and done, Bush may look like one of the better leaders that we have had. He stuck steadfast to his beliefs. He endured extreme unpopularity and now at the end of his term things are starting to come around. Look how people respond to the CIA. If they like the latest report they are wonderful until they release the next report. Think stoppage of nuclear weapons by Iran to destroying video tapes at Guantanamo.

Posted by: bighat | December 10, 2007 11:12 AM

Maybe we could have saved 4000 US lives, half a million Iraqi lives, $2.5 trillion ($3.5 if you believe Ron Paul) and if we had anyone competent in the bush admin, showed that we could help the Afghans rebuild a country. But that would require that some bushies be competent, +/or the WaPo-Times wankers would have had to take their noses out of bushie butts.

Posted by: tom | December 9, 2007 10:21 PM

"Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe."

Going into Iraq was your brain on jingoism. That is the ultimate "groupthink". The reason Clinton and others voted for the war resolution was because they knew that jingoism is often a winner among people like you who can't think independently. The people who did not succomb to jingoism got it right then.

You were wrong then and you are wrong now - you were "groupthinking" then and you are "groupthinking" now.

Posted by: dowty | December 9, 2007 4:33 PM

"Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe."

Going into Iraq was your brain on jingoism. That is the ultimate "groupthink". The reason Clinton and others voted for the war resolution was because they knew that jingoism is often a winner among people like you who can't think independently. The people who did not succomb to jingoism got it right then.

You were wrong then and you are wrong now - you were "groupthinking" then and you are "groupthinking" now.

Posted by: skeptonomist | December 9, 2007 4:17 PM

Fascism is doomed to failure and history proves that.

Posted by: ghostcommander | December 8, 2007 5:56 PM

One of the benefits of "secret underwear" is that it helps you identify folks who are fixated on other people's underwear.

These are folks you want to watch out for.

Posted by: Douglas | December 8, 2007 7:24 AM

If Iraq was not invaded: george the egghead would have played more golf and at the end of his first term he would have retired into oblivion.

Posted by: Robert James | December 8, 2007 7:00 AM

Now you've got me thinking about Romney's underwear. And I didn't really need to go there...

Posted by: Jacksonian | December 7, 2007 11:33 PM

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you:

Posted by: avraam jack | December 7, 2007 11:24 PM

Mike, thank you for your explanation.

I'm still skeptical, but will try to make time for a closer look at the Hopkins study. It does seem odd to me that would bother to post figures with five significant digits if they were obviously off by an order of magnitude. In fairness, they do claim the real account is "much higher" but I wonder if the same could be said about the UNICEF study.

As far as why the USG doesn't fund its own count, let's consider what would happen. Any study costing a few million would have some errors in it. If it were directed by highly capable people with a deep dedication for getting the most accurate count possible with reasonable funding, there'd still be errors in the count, some of which would increase the count and some of which would decrease it. Critics of all stripes would have something to criticize. Meanwhile, other counts by groups with an agenda would disagree with the USG count, and they might even sue. Louis Farrakhan got the Interior Department to stop counting people at marches after he threatened to sue them for saying there were nowhere near one million people attending his "Million Man March." Simply put, the USG has something to lose from reports of high civilian casualty figures and would have at the very least the appearance of impropriety in publishing its own figures.

Posted by: The Angry One | December 7, 2007 11:11 PM

Saddam may be "out" but the rumor is that, far from having been executed, he's hiding at the Fürhrer's formed bunker underneath 45th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Posted by: Franklin D. Fagley IV | December 7, 2007 10:10 PM

Vidvud1 spoke about the UN inspectors in Iraq because of a "last chance" that Bush gave Iraq to "come clean about its WMD programs" - UNSCR-1440. Iraq did come clean with tons of documentation. But the next day, Bush declared that Iraq's documents didn't tell the truth (although he never said in what way). Next, the inspectors went into Iraq with US based intelligence and issued a preliminary report stating that they'd found not one sign of WMD's of any kind. Saddam had indeed complied with Bush's and the UN's demands.

Disregarding these inconvenient facts, Bush told the UN inspectors to leave Iraq, he was going to invade because Iraq had WMD's and hadn't complied with UNSCR-1440.

However, the UN never stated that Iraq hadn't complied with 1440. Yet, Bush continues to cite Iraq's failure to disarm as the reason he invaded a sovereign nation.

Why doesn't anyone in the press or blogisphere call him on this and other issues?

The answer to what had all this to do with the initial question is simple. The US probably wouldn't have a 9 trillion $ public debt. So far, in fiscal 2007, the US has paid almost $500 billion on the interest! Next year, the interest payment will be higher! If Bush gets more money for Iraq off-budget and runs another deficit, those interest payments will continue to grow!

Posted by: Stan | December 7, 2007 8:35 PM

If you read the fine print of recent history you find that Iran's primary motivation for developing nuclear weapons was to deter another invasion by Saddam Hussein. With him gone in 2003 and Iraq turned into a pro-Iranian bastion it was logical that Iran would abandon the effort to go nuclear because it would only give Bushidoists a pretext for further invasion in the region.

Posted by: View from afar | December 7, 2007 8:27 PM

"What if" is an interesting question when we face a similar situation in the future. If Saddam was left alone:
1) He probably wouldn't be ruler of Iraq. Iraq had sanctions and a no-fly zone in the North or South that was destabilizing the country. His decption about weapons of mass destructopm would have eventually leaked. The Sunnis probably would have put in someone more acceptable to the EU.
2) Until removal, Saddam could have involved Turkey in the North in suppressing the Kurds. This has taken longer because of US involvement, and is in the works now.
3) Until removal, he would have suppressed the Shi'a in the South and kept the Iranians out.
4) There would probably by now have been a military dictatorship in the country, with little regional impact.
5) The US would have probably stopped the non-fly policy when Saddam was replaced.
6) The UN probably would have peacekeepers along the Iranian border.
7) The US would probably have used its military more forcefully in Afghanistan, and probably made more use of Muslim troops.
8) Oh, there would probably be 25,000 more US soldiers (dead and wounded), and a trillion dollars in our pockets.
9) The Iraqis would still have electric power and sewage.

Posted by: doctor t | December 7, 2007 7:26 PM

Hillary Clinton has come out on several public forums and stated she never would have voted for the use of force in Iraq were she not misled about weapons of mass destruction. That position is consistant with other people who at first supported the war and have since backed off for the same reason.

While we will never know what would have happened if we hadn't invaded and occupied Iraq any argument they are better off today is ludicrous. That argument was put into the public domain by the administration to cover up the gaff of not finding any wmd's. The administration or no one else knows what would have happened in Iraq had we not invaded.

As for intended versus unintended consequences I'm fairly sure if I supported the war I wouldn't want to go down this road either. Intended consequences were laid out prior to the invasion. They were ridding the world of Saddam and his wmd's. (he didn't have any) To establish another viable democracy in the ME to increase the stability of the region. (Hasn't happened yet and there is no sign it's likely to in the foresseable future) All of these intended consequences were to cost 42 billion dollars which we would recoup most of the money from the oil we would get. (This one is laughable. We're on our way to 2 trillion if we're lucky) Since the major unintended consequences turned out to be a civil war and the deaths of many tens of thousands of Iraqis, a greater influence of Iran and higher oil prices I'm having a hard time understanding how these are good. Top this all off with the torture and mishandling of human beings and shredding the Geneva Accords and I have to say Iraq has been and will continue to be a debacle of the first magnitude.

At this point should it turn out Bush is vindicated for this terrible folly that will be the most surprising unintended consequence of all.

Posted by: BobL-VA | December 7, 2007 7:21 PM

Angry One
The Johns Hopkins study is the only peer-reviewed study into the number of excess Iraqi deaths.
The icasualties figures are based on figures collected from newspaper reports. If journalists don't record the deaths then they aren't counted. It's not a method that would be accepted for counting deaths in any other warzone, unless it was a minor war like Northern Ireland.

The Johns Hopkins study is based on counting EXCESS deaths so it already would account for any 'benefit' of the change in food availability etc.

By the way the U.S. government has, after 5 years still conducted or funded no similar study. The cost would likely be a few million dollars. Perhaps the warmongers at the Wapo would like to fund a new study since they care so much about the Iraqi civilians

Posted by: Mike | December 7, 2007 7:15 PM

To the costs that wmc418 stated, I add the pain, suffering and financial costs related to all the wounded soldiers for their ( and their families) lifetimes.

One thing we do know for sure is that the Iraq War has had a devastating effect on our National Budget, and I dare say, even our National Security (in the broadest of terms) because money spent on War related things will be diverted from other endeavors. The debt will haunt us for generations.

Posted by: Veteran1968-72 | December 7, 2007 6:40 PM

Dear Roberto,

I suggest you read what the British government and the pamphlet "Plain Truth" wrote about the American Revolutionary war. So much of what was said then has reappeared in what the Bush administration says about Iraq now. Including the charges of terrorism.

Posted by: JREED11665 | December 7, 2007 5:23 PM

The history of events that didn't happen will never be written. The question is irrelevant and pointless. Anyone can insert any opinion into that vacancy and all of them will be worthless.

Posted by: kchses | December 7, 2007 5:18 PM

Mike, yes I do care about the civilian deaths. And I dispute your figures (especially if you meant 650 thousand below, i.e. not 65 thousand). Please hear me out.

The 5,000 monthly figure represents civilians who died due to starvation. It excludes murders, political executions, and other civilian deaths. 5,000 a month over 4+ years, call it 50 months, brings us to 250,000 civilian deaths. To add 650,000 to that is a total of 900,000 civilian deaths, some 3 to 4 percent of the Iraqi population. That sounds awfully high to me; perhaps people who move out of the country are being included?

The antiwar site reports 36,570 civilian deaths since they sharply increased after the shrine bombing in Feb. 2006. I used their figure that includes police and military losses, which of course is more than the term "civilian casualties" deserves, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on that. Feb 2006 was some 20 months ago, so that gives us a civilian death rate of a little less than 2,000 a month (and only 800 a month in the preceding Apr. 2005-Feb. 2006 period). Quite a bit less than the prewar 5,000 a month. It appears the U.S. invasion may have calmed things down a little bit. We have anti-Bush media all over the country now, surely they'd film starving women and children if they existed in the vast prewar numbers. I conclude the Iraqis aren't starving to death nearly as much as they once were.

Surely you can't tell me is biased in Bush's favor. But if you can tell me how their methodology misses something that your Hopkins study doesn't, or that the UNICEF figures were exaggerated, I will listen.

Have a good weekend.


To The Angry One
Your point has been addressed by the Johns Hopkins study published in the Lancet. They estimated the EXCESS deaths (ie over the previous situation) as 650,00 and that was well over a year ago.
Not that you care.

Posted by: The Angry One | December 7, 2007 5:17 PM

"Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe."


Oh, really?

Most of the countries that actively participated in Gulf War I had zero difficulty in staying out of Bush 43's unnecessary war of choice.

Posted by: RAS | December 7, 2007 5:14 PM

I agree with Martinez. The extreme emotional rants of most posters make two mistakes. First,
they assume motives and beliefs and callousness on the part of the writer which just is not there
and second, they assume motives and beliefs on the part of the Bush administration that are not valid in my view. Making Bush et. al. out as "monsters" and "war criminals" is in the end just extreme left wing politics because even the people who say such things deep inside know that those decisions were made under very difficult circumstances and in an environment of fear and uncertainty
in the belief that they were doing what was necessary, not some callous calculation for
power and some desire to "kill thousands of innocent people". Get real. No sane person would knowingly go down that path intentionally- even G.W. Bush.

Also missed are crucial facts. The war Bush started against Saddam was over in three weeks. The war insurgents and terrorists started against American troops,
which is not backed by Iraqi's in general, and the war Iraqi's waged on other Iraqi's are both wars of choice, not necessity. Yet the left wing extremists actually seem to think these are "justifiable" actions against "American aggresors". At least they sound like that in their rhetoric. Moral culpability for these wars which make up the bulk of the deaths which OF COURSE, everyone feels the tragedy of and laments,
should be laid at the feet of those who choose to prosecute them. The extreme anger the left wing anti war people have is just not rational or helpful. In fact, it is inherently dishonest as many current outrages are ignored because to comment on those might be percieved as in some small way validating something Bush said. This disease of extreme Bush hatred( not to be confused at all with even complete disagreement with Bush policies which even I have some) is not only couter-productive but has in fact damaged the country, helped our enemies and helped stoke the flames of extreme anti-americanism worldwide. When thousands pour into the streets from the Gaza to Iran to Egypt to denounce Bush, the Left cheers but they say nothing when the same demonstrators call for the extermination of the Jews and the imposition of Sharia law. We know that likely will not happen but how much higher the cost will be due to the irrational ranting of the extremist in the anti war left indicated by some of the posts in this forum?

Posted by: Roberto | December 7, 2007 3:48 PM

what is this??
-hundreds of thousands of lives would have been iraq and america.
-don't be fooled by foreign electoral whims. the world still find america guilty as charged for going into iraq. and will for the foreseeable future.
-and afghanistan might be a functioning democracy right now instead of the big mess it is.
it WAS a no-brainer then and now.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 7, 2007 2:44 PM

"So, what would have happened if we hadn't invaded and deposed Saddam?"

Actually, more to the point is: What would not have happened. Those before me have done a good job in explaining most of that.

But the divisiveness which happened as a result of the Iraq invasion, is perhaps just as bad as everything else that can be measured in lives and dollars. The hatred that will linger for many years to come amongst Americans, forgetting that the enemy has been the fanatical zealots who got away not just with murder but with havoc, confusion and the creation of the group think that separate America.

Posted by: Verbatim | December 7, 2007 2:44 PM

I know others have addressed you calous, shallow answer about Iraq, but it needs to be repeated. If we had obeyed the law and stayed out of Iraq:

1) Nearly 4,000 American soldiers would still be alive. Tens of thousands woud not be disabled. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would be alive and millions would not be refugees.

2) A trillion plus dollars would not have been borrowed from China.

3) We might have actually repaired Afghanistan, found and tried Osama and defeated the terrorists.

Posted by: Greg in LA | December 7, 2007 1:59 PM

What a deceptive piece of garbage this is! Martinez is clearly ignorant when it comes to foreign current events. Tell this to the American families who lost a loved one and to the 30,000 who are injured and forever scarred, physically and mentally!

Posted by: sally | December 7, 2007 1:38 PM

At the very least, the Cheney wing of the administration has been working on getting us back into Iraq from day one. Just as they created "Team B" and "The committee for the present danger" in the Ford administration, they created a parallel intelligence-generating system to fix the facts around their policies and ideological goals (privatizing Iraq's oil and water resources, keeping that oil off of the market for various reasons, using Iraq as a base to project military power throughout the region for example).

After allowing the leadership of "Al Qaeda International" to be airlifted out of Tora Bora into the mountains of Pakistan, this administration has attacked its enemies (the secular dictator Saddam Hussein and the Shiite-majority Iranian government), defended the dictator if their nuclear-armed host country, Pervez Musharraf, and practically smothered its friends in

Without the continued occupation of Iraq bleeding the economy dry, the soverign wealth funds of countries like China and Saudi Arabia might not give those countries the influence on American policy that they currently have.

The best case scenario is that we will be paying for the decision re-invade iraq until the last of its veterans is dead, maybe seventy or eighty years from now.

By the way, the "Clinton shield" ("But, but... Clinton did it!") just gets more pathetic every day. If the Clintons fell for the con or were/are in favor of the invasion and occupation, they were/are wrong.

No matter what consensual adult sexual activity previous presidents have participated in, D.C. has never been as much of a brothel as it is today. Unfortunately, too much of the media spends too much of its time angling for "freebies" when there's actual reporting to be done.

Posted by: MisterOwl | December 7, 2007 1:20 PM

Ah, the shameless spin of the right. What fools like Andres Martinez fail to realize is that, if Saddam were still in power, the Republicans would probably still be in power too. As long as we're using hindsight to spin false conclusions to support our views (or in Andres' case, to blindly support Bush), some that oppose the war should actually fess up that it has been a great boon to it's opposition. The debacle of Iraq has weakened the Republicans badly, and no amount of shameless spin is going to change that. Martinez, like most on the right, are in a state of denial, a partisan dreamworld of spin and delusion. Sure, dude, Iraq has been a smashing success for the pro-war crowd. Keep pretending that please until next November rolls around. Such a mentality contributed to your losses last election, and will do the same next election.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 7, 2007 12:15 PM

What would have happened if we hadn't deposed Saddam? Can we suppose this means we would have taken a sane route and actually went after, captured or killed those truly responsible for the 9/11 attacks? Would this have altered the structure in the Middle East? Would it give us more authority to lead a real war on terrorism? Would our actions form a true coalition which could face down Iran and its enablers? Unfortunately we will never know. However I applaud you for taking as many cheap shots at Democrats as you could fit into your column.

Posted by: ibfamous | December 7, 2007 12:14 PM

What utter garbage. To claim that the Iraq war led to only good things is about as logical as claiming the Holocaust was good because it led to the establishment of the state of Israel. There is no concrete evidence that the Iraq war led to anything other than 4000 American deaths, untold numbers of Iraqi deaths, and a destruction of Iraqi society that is still beyond repair. And that wonderful puppet democracy..lets not go there.

Posted by: JREED11665 | December 7, 2007 12:01 PM

mr. martinez, your claim that leaders like merkel [germany] or sarkozy [france] were elected to even just 'in part' mend the transatlantic ties lacks any basis in reality. it is a complete fabrication on your part, or could you supply any evidence? economical reasons prompted the peoples of the two respective countries to elect conservatives. there is no real need to assuage a morally and financially bankrupt bush administration- what could bush give to europe, he who can't even provide for his own country? as the canadian collar surpasses the u.s. dollar, the infrastructure crumbles, the economy slumps and the national debt cripples the country [while giving to the chinese de facto control of american currency], while torture and secret prisons have become an accepted fact here mr. martinez insinuates that european countries have the burning desire to cosy up to the most incompetent u.s. leadership ever. try writing fantasy novels, mr. martinez, you might succeed there....

Posted by: arvo | December 7, 2007 11:59 AM

People seem to forget that the current Iranian president was elected AFTER the US invaded Iraq.

That invasion completely halted Iran's reform movement as the people there were told it was only a matter of time until the US invaded Iran.

When Iran halted its nuclear program, the reform movement was still strong and they were making overtures to the US for more contact.

At the same time, Saddam Hussein was becoming more and more isolated in his country. It was only a matter of time until he fell. There is no telling who might have succeeded him, it may have been worse but that successor may also have been more reasonable.

If we hadn't invaded, we would have at least one trillion dollars more to spend here, and would have focused more on stabilizing Afghanistan.

Make no mistake, it was a mistake - of historical proportions.

Posted by: rap | December 7, 2007 11:24 AM

It's sad we've reached the point where Mr Martinez's callous disregard for human life is unremarkable.

Posted by: david | December 7, 2007 11:06 AM

Barack Hussein Obama, according to an article that i read this morning, said that his Pastor thought that the trip that Barack Hussein Obama in 1984, with NATIONAL of ISLAM leader LOUIS FARRAKHAN met with LIBYAN leader MOAMMAR GADHAFI would hurt him.

WHAT WAS THIS TRIP ABOUT AND WHAT DID Barack Hussein Obama mean at the fourm held in his behalf when he said..WE ARE GOING TO SHOCK THE WORLD !!...

Posted by: yojoe | December 7, 2007 10:57 AM

what amazing idea.."
Yet we now have leaders in both France and Germany who were elected in part to reverse policy and improve ties with Washington." all the leaders of the free world who followed Bush..felt down..first Barroso, afther Aznar, Berlusconi, Blair..and now Howard..
its seems than the west non american people think a lot different from my americans friends..

Posted by: lorenzo van perg | December 7, 2007 10:52 AM

Why is Clinton,s name always brought up as some sort of defense toward this bunch of thieves that are based at 1600 Pa. Ave? First off Clinton did not lie under oath to the sucker punch question thrown at him by Ken Star. Star asked the wrong question. To use this basis to compare over 200,000 deaths with a trumped up war to eliminate cheap oil only enforces the fact that many people in this country are idiots. Bush and company should be impeached and then be tried for murder. If anyone thinks anything else there is a place in Washington called St Elizabeths that would like to talk with you.

Posted by: Winston 707 | December 7, 2007 10:38 AM

Let's think about this with what we know.

Deaths between a low end of 75,000 and a high end of over 1 million.

Injuries, multiples of the deaths.

Displacement of people in the mid single digit millions.

Costs Trillions of dollars and a weakening of our monetary value.

The good name of the United States tarnished.

Iran emerges as a power without a neighbor that held them in check.

The disintegration of the Spanish government in 2002.

A broken down military machine with used up vehicles, airplanes, and other materiel which will require more billions to replace repair and upgrade.

Military recruiting goals becoming unattainable.

The creation of quasi-military armies with private ownership. (think Blackwater)

Oil prices effectively tripled.

World War III talk out of the mouth of an American President.

What has been accomplished?

Saddam Hussein is no longer in power or alive.

His sons and family are either dead or in disrespect.

Iraq now is a broken nation. Divided into the original ethnic and tribal entities.

The region is no more stable, perhaps no less, but who really knows about that one.

There are those who benefited, but they are not the ordinary American or likely to be the ordinary Iraqi either.

The future looks muddled, without any real general direction or indicators that show peace, democracy or freedom has been accomplished or expanded.

This is off the top of my head.

If we knew then, what we know now, what rational society would have undertaken this adventure?

Posted by: wmc418 | December 7, 2007 10:08 AM

A couple things:

Bill Clinton's "support" of the war in Iraq was not quite as black and white as Martinez makes it seem. I can just imagine Elliot Abrams, of Iran-Contra fame, "briefing" Bill Clinton, and then claiming to his colleagues that he had Clinton's "support". Two liars in room - one lied to a grand jury about an affair with an intern, the other was convicted of lying to Congress about selling arms to "terrorists" in order to fund a covert war in direct contravention of US law. I distrust both of them, but I know who I would distrust least in this case.

And this statement: "Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe."

First, there is no single antiwar groupthink. Those of us who opposed the war from the outset, and those who now oppose the war, do so for a variety of reasons that should not be simplistically pigeon-holed. Again, it isn't, and wasn't, a black and white issue. For those of us who opposed the war, starting with the saber-rattling in mid-2002 (conveniently in time for the mid-term elections) it wasn't simply the fact that we invaded and occupied Iraq that was so obviously wrong; most (not all) antiwar groupies would admit that there is a time and a place for military action, but the situation in 2002-03 did not rise to that level. The larger problem was the _manner_ in which the Bush-Cheney team got us into the war - the arrogance, circular logic, chicken-hawk machismo, the delusional underestimation of the difficulties we would face, the complete disregard for the obvious ramifications of the invasion - that most antiwar Americans objected to. Rather than ridding the world of terrorism, we knew that invading Iraq the way we did would fan the flames of terrorism and anit-Americanism. And by the way we were right.

Posted by: TonyO | December 7, 2007 10:08 AM

To The Angry One
Your point has been addressed by the Johns Hopkins study published in the Lancet. They estimated the EXCESS deaths (ie over the previous situation) as 650,00 and that was well over a year ago.
Not that you care.

Posted by: Mike | December 7, 2007 9:44 AM

In September - October 2002 in attempts to avert the war the government of Iraq permitted open access to UN inspectors, released political prisoners and made overtures to hold free, internationally monitored elections. Other Iraqi actions included the destruction of missiles at the request of the UN. The American response was to step up the bombing already then the most intense since the Gulf War. With an army massing on Iraq's borders Saddam Hussein made serious gestures to avert war. Would negotiations have led to a Western style democracy by now? Probably unlikely but the international community clearly had substantial power to influence events inside of Iraq without war. And with the no fly zones over half of the country was already under effective military control. The trillion dollars squandered on a discretionary war could have been well spent to effect fundamental improvement of the human condition on this planet solving multiple intractable problems and establishing the US as the preeminent power for decades to come. Instead, the war has radically diminished the power of the US, left hundreds of thousands dead and made solution of many problems more difficult.

Posted by: Vidvuds1 | December 7, 2007 9:34 AM

"But we shouldn't allow that to cloud the context in which the decision to go to war was made. There is a reason Hillary Clinton voted to allow George Bush to go to war. Staying out was not the no-brainer today's antiwar groupthink would have you believe."

This is a willfully ignorant assertion. PLENTY of people, myself absolutely included, knew what the lies were when they were told to us, and still remember them. We were lied into war, and now you liars (yes, YOU) want to pretend "we all" thought the war was a good idea.


Revealing PS: I really have no idea why so many Dems went along with this bullsiht in the first place, but at least they weren't the criminal as*holes doing the fabricating.

Posted by: Mobedda | December 7, 2007 9:29 AM

To all four of you who posted before me:

UNICEF estimated that 5,000 Iraqi civilians died each month as a result of the prewar sanctions imposed as part of the Oil-For-Food program. There was plenty of oil, plenty of oil profits for Saddam's personal bank accounts, but not plenty of food.

If you're going to tally up the cost of human life that the war has caused, that's fair only if you compare it to the humanitarian costs of doing nothing.

DC Groupthinkers, all of you.

Posted by: The Angry One | December 7, 2007 9:13 AM

A couple of things about not invading Iraq:

(1) We'd have about $1 trillion (and counting) that we could do something else with.

(2) Close to 4,000 dead Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis (and counting) would be alive.

Maybe you can shrug that off, but I can't.

Posted by: dougmuder | December 7, 2007 7:49 AM

Both previous comments express my disappointment with Andres Martinez response equating "right-minded" people with groupthinkers, when we are actually just well-informed by many sources. The following statement is especially weak:

"...arrogance of the Bush administration in pursuing this war was supposed to have forever weakened transatlantic solidarity. Yet we now have leaders in both France and Germany who were elected in part to reverse policy and improve ties with Washington."

Apparently "Stumped" is the one who is "stumped." European countries who now seek to improve relations only do so as the end of the Bush nightmare draws near. It is my simple hope that the administration doesn't exacerbate the situation further in the remaining 409 days. May polytheistic deities save us all.

Posted by: Barbara Sockey | December 7, 2007 6:05 AM

What a mess. No, I'm not talking about Iraq (even though it is a mess). I'm talking about your writings.

It wasn't "groupthink" that got us into the war. It was a series of manipulated intelligence, outright lies, and preying on the fears of Americans by neo-conservatives who wanted, in the worse way, to try out their ridiculous theories on solving the Middle East muddle and, along the way, try out good old robber baron capitalism on the people of Iraq.

We attacked a sovereign nation that didn't attack us, was no clear threat to us, and had all of the military power of a third world nation.

Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and his sons were worse. Does that mean we have to attack every country that has a bad guy as ruler? There are a lot worse than Hussein.

What give anyone the right to make that judgment call unilaterally?

And, I wonder, as if there was a way to count, whether Hussein or Bush killed and displaced more Iraqis?

And don't even get me started on how the war was run. It just proved to me that an ideologue is incapable of the complex management required to run a war (or a country). Pragmatic thinking is needed. When an idea doesn't work, you change, you adapt, you compromise, you do things that an ideologue won't do. An ideologue, when things go wrong, will just dig in their heels and refuse to change, they are too invested in their theories, they are their theories, and will cling on to them long after they've been shown to be wrong. Look at how sure Don Rumsfeld is that he will be proved right in the end.

What would Iraq look like if we hadn't invaded? There is no way to know and it is pointless to speculate.

I do know that we wouldn't have had tens of thousands of dead and injured American soldiers. We would have billions more in our treasury and fewer debts. We would have kept the military industrial complex and anyone who had a connection inside the Republican party from pillaging our tax dollars.

The question to answer now not what we should have done in the past but what we should do in the future.

We kept fighting in Vietnam long after there was any chance of victory. Billions wasted and who knows how many dead and injured.

What will happen in Iraq if we leave? Will it be worse than if we stayed? I think not, because after getting the stick from us, they will be more than willing to get the carrots from us. No country is going to invade with us looking over Iraq (except Turkey, and that is a localized problem and manageable) and no government that arises from the ashes is going to go too mad with power, unless it is another colonel led coup backed by the CIA. Why? Because war sucks and civil war sucks greatly.

We were wrong to go in, incompetent in occupation, and have lost our moral clarity as a result. Torture? Great! Invade countries who aren't a threat? Superb! Rendition? Gulag Guantanamo?

We need to say "Sorry" and back off and start again with regional diplomacy, which will require patience, perseverance, and perspective.

This isn't "antiwar groupthink". It is just clear thinking.

Posted by: capemh | December 7, 2007 1:00 AM

Martinez answer on the Iraq question embodies the Beltway elite.
He never even thinks to mention the hundreds of thousands of people who are dead becuase of the war, the four million who have been made refugees, the uncounted who have been maimed or traumatized.

They don't count in Martinez cocktail party circuit where the good news is that the D.C. Villagers can expect invitations from the French and German embassy parties again. Whoopee.

Posted by: XYZ | December 7, 2007 12:13 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company