“With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn’t the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago,” Mr. Buckley said. “If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.”
While I am not one who “would have opposed the war” if I had todays intelligence yesterday, a lot of conservatives, and perhaps the President included, would feel that way.
This really is much ado about nothing.
Mr. Buckley is not saying he did, in fact, oppose the war. He is saying that, had we known then what we know now, he would have opposed the war.
But Buckley, being the realist, understands that we did not know then what we know now. Had we been able to fight yesterday’s war on tomorrow’s data, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, we could only fight yesterday’s war with yesterday’s data and at the time that data showed us that Saddam was a growing threat and we needed to stop him before he became an imminent threat. The intelligence agencies of the Western World all agreed that Saddam had WMD (I think WMD are still there) and most agreed that Saddam was a growing threat.
Putin of Russia even conveyed intelligence that Saddam intended to attack the US at some point.
So, no harm no foul with Buckley’s quote. He doesn’t say he opposed the war. He only says that if the data back then were different — in a less egregious way — he would have opposed the war.
A lot of people would have felt the same way (not me). But that hindsight does not now delegitimize the war.