Is It Bad to "Play the Blame Game" on Iraq?

After breaking Iraq, America is now faced with the question of whether we bought it. As Iraq slides further into chaos, complex choices must be weighed. Does that mean that it's time to stop "the blame game" over how we got here?

What does it mean to "play the blame game" in the context of current events? It means—according to opponents of the blame game—to discuss who is responsible for bringing about the current mess in Iraq, and why. "The blame game" is currently being played, we are told with evident distaste, by the "partisans" in "Washington." This immature blame game, we are told, is a distraction that afflicts childish politicians who should be focused on more weighty matters. Even Andy Borowitz, America's least thoughtful humorist, is making light of our elected leaders and their petty little blame game. Michael Gerson, Republican lackey and syndicated columnist, would like us to "Stop the Blame Game and Save Iraq." The current crisis, he writes, "does not end debates about past failures, which are often passionate and legitimate. But the current crisis should marginalize those debates, or at least postpone them... Who lost Iraq matters; helping to save it matters more."

I would like to say, for the first and last time in my life, that Michael Gerson is right. Addressing the current humanitarian and political crisis, and doing what is necessary to prevent absolute chaos and endless misery in Iraq and the Middle East at large, is more important than debating blame here in America. It is more important in the same way that breathing air is more important than eating food. One is the more immediate need than the other. Then again, you need to do both, or else you're fucked in the long run.

If there were an either-or choice between "saving Iraq" and "assigning proper blame for destroying Iraq," we would have to choose to save Iraq and forget the blame. It's the only grownup choice. Fortunately, we do not face such a choice. We can do both things. The responsible people in positions of power in this country can make responsible decisions to do their best to address the current crisis in Iraq. And we—me, you, all of us—can also think about the absolutely vital question: Who got us here? The question is vital because positions of elected leadership are in large part votes of confidence in the good judgment of individuals and their political parties and supporters and advisers. If there were, say, lots of people still in positions of power who made a grievous, craven error of judgment that has led us to the awful position that we are in now, it is important that we identify them, so that we may withdraw power from them. We wouldn't want to give the same people who got us into this mess control of this mess again.

Anyone who actively supported and advocated for the initial Iraq invasion is just too dumb, evil, or cowardly to be given any power in the very same arena now. This is just common sense.

[Photo: AP]