For one war supporter, an order of crow, please

National Review Online's John Derbyshire says his colleagues are lying if they still say they'd do it all over again.

Published June 12, 2006 7:55PM (EDT)

While his colleagues are celebrating the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, National Review Online columnist John Derbyshire is out with a different take on the Iraq war: an apology.

Derbyshire supported George W. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, but now he says it's time for him "eat some crow and say: I wish I had never given any support to this fool war."

"One reason I supported the initial attack, and the destruction of the Saddam regime, was that I hoped it would serve as an example, deliver a psychic shock to the whole region," Derbyshire writes. "It would have ... if we'd just rubbled the place then left. As it is, the shock value has all been frittered away. Far from being seen as a nation willing to act resolutely, a nation that knows how to punish our enemies, a nation that can smash one of those ramshackle Mideast despotisms with one blow from our mailed fist, a nation to be feared and respected, we are perceived as a soft and foolish nation that squanders its victories and permits its mighty military power to be held to standoff by teenagers with homemade bombs -- that lets crooks and bandits tie it down, Gulliver-like, with a thousand little threads of blackmail, trickery, lies, and petty violence."

The fourth year of the war "looks pretty much like the third year, or the second," Derbyshire writes. "Will the eighth year of our occupation, or our 12th, look any better? Is there anyone, really, who is glad we did it? I know people who will say yes, but I no longer know any who will say it with real conviction."

As for his National Review colleagues who still "talk up" the Bush administration's Iraq policy? "It's hard not to think ... that if wired up to a polygraph and asked the question: 'Supposing you could wind the movie back to early 2003, would you still attack Iraq?' any affirmative answers would have those old needles a-jumping and a-skipping all over the graph paper."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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