At The Corner on NRO, former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner greeted the new "Victory at Last" Iraq cover story in Newsweek by throwing a hardball back at Iraq pessimists in the media, like Time’s Joe Klein and Tom Ricks of The Washington Post, who insisted the Iraq war was a "fiasco" and the surge was ridiculous:
Those like Joe Klein and Tom Ricks, who claimed the Iraq war was "probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history" (Klein's words) and "the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy" (Ricks's words), were wrong. Ricks went so far as to say in 2009 that "I think staying in Iraq is immoral."
Now, if we had followed the counsel of Klein and Ricks and not implemented the surge, their predictions might have been closer to the mark. (Bush's decision was one of "adolescent petulance" and "the decision to surge was made unilaterally, without adequate respect for history or military doctrine," Klein wrote on April 5, 2007.) As it is, if the positive trajectory of events continue and Iraq does end up reshaping the political culture of the Arab Middle East, the Iraq war will, on balance, have advanced American interests in the region.
Newsweek declared: "Bush's rhetoric about democracy came to sound as bitterly ironic as his pumped-up appearance on an aircraft carrier a few months earlier, in front of an enormous banner that declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And yet it has to be said and it should be understood – now, almost seven hellish years later -- that something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq. And while it may not be a beacon of inspiration to the region, it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East."
Newsweek did not title its cover story "We Are All Iraq War Backers Now."
Wehner predicted that the historical long view on the war isn’t going to sound like Joe Klein and Tom Ricks:
With the passage of time, President Bush's decision to champion a new counterinsurgency strategy, including sending 30,000 additional troops to Iraq when most Americans were bone-weary of the war, will be seen as one of the most impressive and important acts of political courage in our lifetime. And those who fiercely opposed the so-called surge were not only wrong in their judgment; in some instances their actions were shameful. (I have in mind those who insisted the surge was failing long after it was clear it was succeeding. For a recapitulation of the words and actions of the critics of the surge, including Barack Obama and Joe Biden, go here and here).
Read Wehner's whole item, especially the words from Fouad Ajami, a former Dan Rather favorite.