Courtesy of RCP, heres Francis Fukuyamas attempt to defend himself from his critics. He points out that he raised some cautious caution flags before the invasion. I note that, had things turned out differently (had the Iraq invasion been widely acknowledged as successful, as opposed to still a work in progress), his statements werent of such quality and vehemence as to have been held against him.
I note also that hes no clearer on what he means by legitimacy than he was in the book, for which I have already criticized him. His undefined concerns about legitimacy are sounding more and more like those advanced by a certain haughty Massachusetts Democrat.
Heres the core of FFs current position:
It was perfectly honorable to agonize over the wisdom of the war, and in many ways admirable that people on the left, such as Christopher Hitchens, George Packer, Michael Ignatieff and Jacob Weisberg, supported intervention. That position was much easier to defend in early 2003, however, before we found absolutely no stocks of chemical or biological weapons and no evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program. (I know that many on the left believe that the prewar estimates about Husseins weapons of mass destruction were all a deliberate fraud by the Bush administration, but if so, it was one in which the U.N. weapons inspectors and French intelligence were also complicit.) It was also easier to support the war before we knew the full dimensions of the vicious insurgency that would emerge and the ease with which the insurgents could disrupt the building of a democratic state.
If I were inclined to be uncharitable, Id say that Fukuyama simply wants to take the easy way out: "See, I was lukewarm at best about the invasion. And without actual stockpiles of weapons to which to point, I dont want to make the hard argument about Iraqs easily reconstituted program. And gee, those, er, insurgents make things really, really tough."
Hes right about being entitled to change his mind. And hes right to wish for a less polarized debate. But his position in the "embattled middle" would be more impressive if he were willing to challenge some of the conventional wisdom on which he has taken his "bold" stand.