Rachel Maddow Guest Ron Suskind Condemns Iraq as Allegedly Unique 'War of Choice'

The only things certain in life are death and taxes, Franklin famously observed.

To which I'd add a third possibility, one qualifying at least for the status of near-certainty -- liberals condemning what they consider revisionist history, followed by them engaging in it.

It's gotten to the point that I can set my watch for examples of this, weeknights on MSNBC during "The Rachel Maddow Show."

On Tuesday's show, Maddow once again criticized what she perceives as President Bush and Vice President Cheney rewriting the rationale for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Helping Maddow along was author Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winner who has written three books on the Bush administration.

Here's where Suskind makes the most ludicrous claim about Iraq in recent memory --

What's interesting here is that when you look at the broad context, which is something we should be doing at the end of this presidency, we see first off we had the extraordinary instance of a war of choice, almost unheard of in American history, and a case where the choice itself was never offered to the American people, kind of compounding.

Almost unheard of in American history? I'm reminded of the theater owner in Seoul, South Korea years ago who thought "The Sound of Music" was too long. "He shortened it by cutting out all the songs," wrote Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler in "Felton & Fowler's Best, Worst and Most Unusual" (1975), for what they deemed the "Worst Editing of a Film."

Suskind's assertion qualifies for inclusion in an added chapter -- Worst Editing of American History. Agreed, Iraq as a war of choice is "almost unheard of" in our nation's history -- if you eliminate "almost" all the other wars.

The Persian Gulf War with Iraq, for example. The United States chose conflict with Iraq, as approved by Congress and as part of an international coalition, in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, not Kansas.

The Vietnam War? Waged by three presidents from both major parties who chose to respond to communist aggression in Southeast Asia.

Then there was the Korean War when President Harry Truman chose to counter North Korea's invasion of South Korea, an action that posed no direct threat to America.

How about World War I, which the United States belatedly entered in April 1917, not in response to the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania nearly two years earlier, but based on choosing to protect American interests in Europe and the vague Wilsonian notion of making the world safe for democracy.  

Let's not forget the Spanish-American War, which President William McKinley and Congress chose to fight in response to the mysterious explosion that sank the battleship Maine in Havana harbor in February 1898, for which Spain was initially blamed. McKinley could have chosen negotiations, but instead went with his choice of war to rid the New World of Spain's lingering presence.

Come to think of it, the sovereign nation once known as the Confederacy did not invade the United States, at least not initially -- it seceded from it. Lincoln decided against following the Obamesque route of open-ended negotiations with his opponents and chose to wage war against the Confederate states, even though the Constitution did not address secession.

Which brings us to the Mexican-American War, which President James Polk and Congress chose to fight over disputed territory in Texas -- not any threat Mexico posed to the United States.

The War of 1812? Trade restrictions imposed by Great Britain and the Brits' nasty habit of forcing American sailors to serve in the Royal Navy compelled President James Madison and a closely divided Congress to choose war with Great Britain, which responded by burning down the White House and much of the capital. 

And finally, the American Revolution -- initiated by the Founders who chose to declare independence from Britain, a decision virtually certain to result in war, and did.

Two exceptions to the examples above -- World War II and the current conflict against al Qaeda and militant Islam.

As occurred during World War I, the United States was not among initial combatants in World War II and did not enter the fray until after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Even then, waging war in response was a choice made by Franklin Roosevelt and Congress, and with little hesitation. This is not to suggest the choice was made in error, since I believe it was legitimate. What I'm suggesting is that it was hardly the only choice. Roosevelt could have appealed to Japan, offered to withdraw US forces from the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam and Hawaii, and suggested that Europeans abandon their numerous colonies in Asia.

If Japan accepted, the result most likely would have been an emboldened Japan and tri-nation Axis that would have gotten to America eventually. But we can never know, because FDR and Congress chose otherwise.

Which leads me to the war on terror that the United States entered after 9/11, once again belatedly, after radical Islam's war on us began years earlier. Once again, we chose to fight, this time against al Qaeda, rather than agree to its demands -- ending the US military presence in Saudi Arabia, lifting UN sanctions against Iraq, abandoning Israel to the tender mercies of its neighbors. And al Qaeda's eventual demand, after we acquiesced to all the others, of ordering our daughters to stay home from school and never learn to read.

Apparently the concept of choice is one that liberals have difficulty grasping unless it pertains to abortion.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts