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Leslie Gelb admits he supported Iraq war for the sake of his career

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God bless Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations (and Glenn Greenwald for spotting his statement) for this wonderful confession in Foreign Policy:

My initial support for the war [in Iraq] was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility. We ‘experts’ have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we ‘perfect’ the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common—often wrong—wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.

I applaud Gelb because he is answering this terrible question– Why did you do it?–honestly: policy is a social formulation, we are conventional thinkers, and we supported a war because everyone else we knew in the Establishment was for it.

When people ask why I’m for the draft, the exquisite answer is above: that unless the children of leaders are exposed to the same dangers that they are about to expose other people’s children to, there’s a moral hazard. And that moral hazard came to pass: because these people had nothing at risk beside reputation, they saw that they had far more to risk in their reputations by opposing the war than supporting it.

Remember that Gelb sought to demolish Walt and Mearsheimer, who opposed this disastrous war, in the New York Times, by a type of professional/political blackmail: they were "asking for trouble," he wrote.

Notice, furthermore, that when Gelb attacked W&M in that review for their opposition to the Iraq war, he said the following bullsh-t, which we now know is simply a lie [emphasis mine]:

Their vitriol about the Iraq war — about being so right while others were so wrong — is so overwhelming that they minimize two key facts. First, America’s foreign policy community, including many Democrats as well as Republicans, supported the war for the very same reasons that Wolfowitz and the lobby did — namely, the fact that Hussein seemed to pose a present or future threat to American national interests. Second, the real play-callers behind the war were President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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