I wrote my piece on the Iraq War this morning, and have nothing much to add. But I’ve also come across a few other pieces today, and they’ve shown a particular chasm in how we think back on a subject like war. We made decisions as a nation, and those decisions have cost lives.
How do you measure such things?
I heard NPR interview with Richard Perle, today. It included this exchange.
Montagne: Ten years later, nearly 5000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?
Perle: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done with the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.
What we did at the time was done with the belief that it was necessary. That is all it takes for Perle, looking back, to move past all the casualties resulting, directly, from him and his friends. It doesn’t matter if he was right or wrong, only that he believed at the time that it was necessary. Earlier in the interview, Perle said: “You have to deal with the information that’s available to you and you have to do what you believe is necessary to protect against that most horrendous of possibilities.” That’s absolutely right. Then, later, you have to go back and say: should we have done this or not? Were we right? Did we do something good? That’s called: Learning.
Hopefully at night Perle’s sleep is fitful, as he grapples with all this loss, but I doubt it. He believes in his righteousness.