Monday, July 13, 2009

Parsing Mistakes

"Oh, that's the favorite press question: What was your biggest mistake?"

Donald Rumsfeld in an interview with author. Nov. 19, 2008. Bradley Graham, "McNamara Apologized. Will Rumsfeld?" The Washington Post, July 12, 2009.

Robert McNamara's death invites many comparisons. He admitted his and our mistakes about the Vietnam War 28 years later -- although he grew disenchanted during his last years and months working for LBJ. Why the hurry with Rumsfeld? Perhaps we want an admission of mistakes because the seemingly singular premise of the Iraq War (i.e. the existence of WMDs) was so flagrantly wrong and misconstrued. Our Vietnam rationale evolved over a longer period of time and had all the trappings of the Cold War.

Other Bush officials say, "Mistakes made in good faith...are not a reason to say "I'm sorry...[A]cknowledging error is different from conceding the war shouldn't have been fought at all."

That might make sense if you don't count going to war an error.

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