Idealism, Intent, and the Iraq War
Shadi, I know you were a big opponent against the Iraq war, but looking back in hindsight, did you believe that Bush was guided by faulty intelligence and actually did believe in democracy promotion—or do you believe that the motives were actually nefarious? —Lucille
Shadi: It's an interesting question: what would constitute a "nefarious" motive in this context? I suppose a desire to take control of Iraq's oil would be one example, but I don't think there's much evidence for that interpretation. Were some in the Bush administration driven by some inchoate instinct for vengeance after 9/11? Probably. That might be bad and dumb, but I'm not sure I'd call it nefarious. Bush himself was a true believer.
I don't know if it is controversial to say so, but I do believe Bush was a good man. He really did think that Arabs deserved better, and you could sense sometimes that he felt it an injustice that they were granted much less. Which goes to show, "good" men are capable of terrible policies. Meanwhile, Trump—perhaps the Platonic ideal of a corrupted heart—didn't do anything that quite compares to the Iraq war. In this narrow sense, if we put aside matters of intent, Trump's Middle East policy was "better" than Bush's.