Those like Joe Klein and Tom Ricks, who claimed the Iraq war was “probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history” (Klein’s words) and “the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy” (Ricks’s words), were wrong. Ricks went so far as to say in 2009 that “I think staying in Iraq is immoral.”
Commenting on my post, Ricks went on to say, “The rest of my comment, of course, was that, ‘but I think leaving Iraq is even more immoral.’” Ricks then added this:
On the other hand, it is good for a journalist (or recent journalist, which is what I am) to be misrepresented on occasion, to remind one of how it feels. And I think we have an answer as to how intellectually honest Pete Wehner is. Or maybe he’ s just sloppy, because I recently wrote a piece for the New York Times about why I think we need to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for many years to come.
All of this, you see, qualifies as a “world class bogus quote job.”
Here’s the problem for Mr. Ricks: he said precisely what I quote him as saying. He did in fact say, “staying in Iraq is immoral” — which is (to be generous) a really foolish statement to make. The fact that Ricks added that leaving Iraq is even more immoral doesn’t rectify his reckless use of words. In fact, I was happy to link to Ricks’s original comments since I’m sure people might wonder whether a recent journalist who professes knowledge of Iraq could say such a ridiculous thing. But he did.
If Tom Ricks wants to try to justify his comment that America’s presence in Iraq, which is an act of selflessness and great sacrifice by our nation, is “immoral,” he should do so. And if he wants to elaborate on why he believes our young men and women, who are fighting and dying for the liberation of the Iraqi people, are instruments of immorality — which is the logical conclusion of Ricks’s statement — then he should make that case, too. If he does, you can be sure I’ll respond to him again.
There is, of course, another alternative. Ricks could apologize for his words and admit that he made a mistake.