Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Jonathan Chait on the Iraq War

Looking back on the arguments and the outcome

Print Email

Over at New York, Jonathan Chait (among many things) looks back at the Iraq War–which started ten years ago this week–and reviews what led him to write in support of it. This is a good piece for a number of reasons: it’s frank, virtuous in its self-examination, and intellectually confessional. Here’s a small sample:

Looking back, I have several regrets. We now know that Iraq no longer had any unconventional weapons program. Over the years, this has come to be seen as retrospectively obvious. It was not. While the Bush administration deliberately twisted and overhyped evidence of weapons of mass destruction, the legitimate evidence did show, albeit less dramatically than the administration said, that Iraq had active unconventional weapons programs. This was the judgment of fellow Western intelligence agencies. It was also a logical inference from Saddam Hussein’s refusal to fully comply with U.N. demands even after threatened with invasion. (That Iraq refused full compliance was documented at the time by Hans Blix, Butler’s successor, but this has largely been brushed aside in the retrospective critique.)

The absence of weapons of mass destruction is the most crucial element of my argument that I got wrong, though the part I have the least regret for getting wrong, as it was very hard to know at the time.

It’s difficult to assign a particular value to a piece of writing like this. But if you read it and the slew of acrimonious and supportive comments that follow, I think this is useful for a lot of reasons.

Iraq: What I Got Wrong, and What I Still Believe [NYM]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

another fact set aside for the convenience of the critics is that when captured, Saddam Hussein confirmed that: he made every effort to make the world believe that he did have Weapons of Mass Destruction; and, he truly never believed that the invasion would ever happen. no regrets please

Nola Baar says:

“it was very hard to know at the time” about the weapons…what nonesense. Many people knew that the war had nothing to do with WMD or 9/11 or the rights of women or a brutal dictator who we supported (I love the photo of Rumsfeld shaking the hand of Hussein). It was clear to see that it was only about oil and empire. If you are a reporter then ask the hard questions and do not mouth the lies of a bunch of murderers in the White House.

HannaH43 says:

Nola Baar You can probably see pictures of FDR, shaking Stalin’s and probably Harry Truman also shaking Stalin’s hand. this means nothing. Today’s Friend tomorrow’s enemy That is the way Of the world The war nothing to do with Iraqi oil. Hussein started wars with Iran, Then with Kuwait. paying $25,000 to homicide bombers . He had to go and the Mideast is better for .


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Jonathan Chait on the Iraq War

Looking back on the arguments and the outcome

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.