David Frum

03.22.13

What Iraq Did to the Right

What impact did the War in Iraq have on the Republican Party?

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Over at The Week, Damon Linker explains why the Iraq War was a major reason he left the GOP. 

In late 2002, Linker sent a frantic email to fellow conservatives, urging them to rethink their aggressive support for invading Iraq. He felt the war at odds with the global war on terror, unlikely to produce democratic change in the mideast, and problematic under basic considerations of prudence.

None of my friends and colleagues on the right responded to the arguments in my email, and few even acknowledged receiving it. By breaking from the right-wing consensus in favor of unconditional bellicosity, I had gone rogue. Over the next year and a half, as the victorious invasion became a bloody mess of an occupation and these same friends and colleagues refused to admit — to me or to themselves, let alone to the public — that they had made a massive mistake, I drifted away from the right and never looked back. (There were other factors, too.)

My dissent had nothing to do with principles; it was a matter of prudence or judgment. On foreign policy, Republicans had become the stupid party. And so it remains 10 years later.

And at the Examiner, Phillip Klein fingers anti-war sentiment in 2006 and 2008 for sweeping Barack Obama and huge Democratic majorities into office:

It's quite possible that a Democrat still would have won the White House in 2008, even had the Iraq War never been fought. But that Democrat would not likely have been Obama, nor anyone nearly as liberal. And were it not for the war, no Democratic president would have come into office with as much political capital -- or with such large majorities in Congress -- as Obama did.

It's hard to see how Obamacare would have become law if Bush had never invaded Iraq. This is a bitter pill to swallow for those conservatives who supported the war and bitterly fought Obamacare.

Finally, David talks with James Poulos about the aftermath of Iraq in a Huffington Post Live segment I've featured below: