Like E.J. Dionne, David Ignatius is no friend of President Bush. However, unlike Dionne, he is willing to consider the upcoming war with Iraq on the merits, and in this Washington Post piece, he finds the war meritorious. Ignatius’ view is captured in this quotation from an Egyptian intellectual: “Wars, bad as they are, break empires, they break dictators, they leave the ground clear for new systems to be created.”
Unfortunately, Ignatius can’t resist taking a shot at President Bush for being “arrogant” in the build-up to the war. I confess that I do not understand how someone holding Ignatius’ view of the merits can make this charge. How, given the intractable opposition of important nations, could Bush initiate a war intended to effectuate regime change, as Ignatius wants him to do, without being “arrogant” in the sense that Ignatius means? The underlying decision Bush confronted was pretty stark — refuse to defer to nations like France and Germany or leave Saddam Hussein in power. Those who believe Bush should have taken the second approach can, I suppose, say that Bush was arrogant. But for those like Ignatius who are unwilling to leave Saddam in power, there were only two viable alternatives — forget about the hold-out countries and the U.N. from the start or try to win them over. Bush (mistakenly in my view) opted for the second, less arrogant, alternative. Coming from Ignatius, then, the charge of arrogance is baseless.
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