The third anniversary of the Iraq war has brought out a lot of posts in the liberal blogosphere that emphasize the incompetence of the Bush administration. And, no question, the lack of planning for an insurgency—hell, the lack of planning, period—is criminally incompetent.

But lost in the incompetence charge is the overwhelming wrongness of the invasion. The United States is not supposed to go around invading countries that don’t pose a threat to it or its allies. That’s the part of American exceptionalism neo-cons seem to have forgotten. Ours is supposed to be a different kind of empire, an empire that spreads through the power of our ideals, not through the power of our military. An empire of allies, not of conquered subjects.

The incompetence charge allows those who were in favor of the invasion an easy way to oppose the war now without any serious review of their own moral failings. “If only I had known how badly the Bush administration was going to run this war, I never would have supported it,” is a just a dodge. Even with good planning and good execution, the war was wrong. Iraq posed no threat to us, no threat to Israel, no threat to any of our allies in the region.

The related excuse for initially supporting the war, “The administration cooked the intelligence on WMDs, making Hussein appear to be a threat” is a bit more palatable in that it suggests that you really did think we were going to be attacked, but it’s still ultimately a dodge. You had to willingly blind yourself to all the evidence in order to think Saddam was a threat. He didn’t control his country. A good chunk of it was being run by the Kurds, and his military wasn’t allowed to fly over the rest. The UN inspectors were, day by day and week by week, proving that he had no WMDs. This eunuch was the man who was on the verge of attacking us? Please.

So, while I’m glad to see polls that show America turning its back on this war and those who pushed for it, I’m still bitterly disappointed we spent three years betraying our ideals.

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