Nation building

Michael Kinsley Asks for one Bush Apology too Many

While on one of those convoluted little roams through the blogosphere, I somehow ended up on Darren Kaplan’s page. I’d never been there before, so I decided to take a look around. Good stuff, to be sure. Check it out.

While there, I happened across a post entitled Michael Kinsley Asks for one Bush Apology too Many from yesterday commenting on Kinsley’s Thursday column in Slate in which Kinsley asks for President Bush to apologize for underestimating the cost of re-building Iraq. Kaplan comes to pretty much the same conclusions that I did, and he also agrees that asking Bush to also apologize for “nation building” criticisms during the presidential campaign of 2000 is pretty silly.

Bush was not using “nation building” as a pejorative term when applied to countries that the U.S. attacks because they present a threat or are harboring terrorists who have already attacked the U.S.. Bush was talking about Clinton’s misguided attempts at nation building in places like Somalia or Haiti where no vital national interest was at stake. Even if Bush truly believed that the U.S. should never embark on “nation building” no matter what the circumstances, shouldn’t Bush be allowed to change his mind in light of 9-11? Even Kinsley acknowledges that “Sept. 11 changed everything.” Wouldn’t Kinsley now be heaping scorn on Bush if, in response to the 9-11 attacks, Bush refused to take on the Taliban because the U.S. might have to “nation build” following their ouster?

I agree completely. And he concludes with

In a misguided effort to salvage Clinton’s legacy, Kinsley is overplaying his hand. Bush was wrong on one aspect of Iraq, that doesn’t make Bush (or me for that matter) wrong about anything else.

In fact, you could even say that while Kinsley was right on one aspect of Iraq, that doesn’t make Kinsley right about anything else.