On Monday, President Obama spoke
about the winding down of U.S. troops in Iraq during a speech to the
Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta. For Time magazine columnist Joe
Klein, it was the perfect setting for such a speech. In contrast to President George W.
Bush's "Mission Accomplished" address on an aircraft carrier in 2003, the
presence of injured veterans created a sober, reverent environment.
In this column, Klein also takes the opportunity to account for his failings as a commentator in the run-up to the Iraq War. He confesses that his opinions on the invasion seemed to have varied greatly depending on the format in which he was expressing them. He concludes with a blunt lesson:
As for myself, I deeply regret that once, on television in the days before the war, I foolishly — spontaneously — said that going ahead with the invasion might be the right thing to do. I was far more skeptical in print. I never wrote in favor of the war and repeatedly raised the problems that would accompany it, but mere skepticism was an insufficient reaction too. The issue then was as clear as it is now. It demanded a clarity that I failed to summon. The essential principle is immutable: we should never go to war unless we have been attacked or are under direct, immediate threat of attack. Never. And never again.