Yes, we were all wrong … but you were wronger!

Megan McArdle writes that even though she and her fellow hawks were “100% wrong” about the likely consequences of the elective U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, she won’t engage in the ritual self-flagellation that “doves” demand because as wrong as she was about what a success it would be, the anti-warriors were just as wrong about how it would fail.

That may not actually be true, as Julian Sanchez and his commenters point out. Let’s take me, for example. I’m a dim bulb in the libertarian/noninterventionist/anti-Iraq war firmament, but back in April 2002 I rehearsed what seemed to me at that time to be pretty straightforward, common arguments about why spreading the war on terror to Iraq was unnecessary and unwise (i.e., wrong and stupid).

But, as Marge Simpson says, no one likes a gloater. Now is not the time for folks who opposed the Iraq war to brag that they were right about how things went awry in this paricular foreign adventure, but for those who supported it to reflect on how things can go disastrously awry in any foreign adventure. And, given that, avoid adventurism at all costs! Once upon a time, this quaint notion was known as conservatism.

My crystal ball was cloudy, too, by the way. What I feared most was not a quagmire in Iraq, but the triumph of “an overarching ideology of American messianism which is inherently dangerous to American liberty.” So, I was wrong about that. The idea that pre-emptive war is a sensible foreign policy — Dubya’s fluffy talk about Iran and Syria aside — is dead.

The thing about elective wars is that they’re all good and dandy until you screw one up. Unfortunately, we got an administration so incompetent that it struck out with just one swing of the bat [sorry for the baseball analogy, Tim].

(Cross-posted to Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Blog.)