Ignatieff says supporting Iraq war was a mistake
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, August 3, 2007 3:14PM EDT
Supporting the war in Iraq was a mistake, Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff has written in an article for the New York Times Magazine.
In an article set to appear Sunday, the former Liberal leadership hopeful talked about the situation in Iraq.
"The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president," Ignatieff writes in a reference to U.S. President George Bush.
"But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion."
Ignatieff said he started supporting the war after speaking with an Iraqi friend who told him freedom in the country could only come once Saddam Hussein was ousted and his regime came to an end.
"How distant a dream that now seems," he wrote.
In the article, Ignatieff also criticized Bush for not being self-critical.
"Good judgment in politics, it turns out, depends on being a critical judge of yourself," Ignatieff writes. "It was not merely that the president did not take the care to understand Iraq. He also did not take care to understand himself."
Ignatieff's support of the war haunted him throughout his leadership bid last year. He was attacked during one of the leadership debates for supporting Bush and his policies.
When the Iraq issue was raised at the debate, Ignatieff acknowledged that his support for the Kurds and Shia in Iraq is longstanding, since spending time with them in Iraq in 1992, when Saddam Hussein was in power.
But during the debate and throughout the campaign, the former Harvard University professor tried to distance himself from Bush and his foreign policies.
"I don't stand with George Bush. I stand with the independence and freedom of the Kurdish and Shia people and believe that one day they will push this country out of the ditch," he said during the debate.
On Dec. 2, 2006, Ignatieff lost the bid to current Liberal leader St�phane Dion. He currently represents the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding in the Toronto-area.
There have since been rumours about possible successors to Dion.
Ignatieff and his aides wouldn't discuss the article, The Canadian Press reported.
Ujjal Dosanjh, foreign affairs critic, said Ignatieff's early position on Iraq hurt his bid for leadership but commended him for admitting he was wrong.
"Obviously it hurt him, that position, but right now I think he is thinking very clearly on this issue," he told CTV Newsnet. "He has decided it was wrong and I commend him for that bravery and that courage."
Dosanjh dismissed a suggestion that Ignatieff's change of heart had anything to do with political motives.
"He was elected as a member of parliament without the change in position and I have no doubt he will be elected handedly in the next election," he said. "I don't believe this is a political ploy."
This isn't the first time Ignatieff has backed away from his earlier support for the Iraq war.
In March 2004 he wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine, "The Year of Living Dangerously," on the first anniversary of the invasion:
"So I supported an administration whose intentions I didn't trust, believing that the consequences would repay the gamble. Now I realize that intentions do shape consequences. An administration that cared more genuinely about human rights would have understood that you can't have human rights without order and that you can't have order once victory is won if planning for an invasion is divorced from planning for an occupation."
Then in October 2006, in the midst of his campaign for leadership, he told The Globe and Mail his support of Iraq was based on mistakenly having faith in the Americans.
"(I take) full responsibility for not having anticipated how incompetent the Americans would be. I don't have remaining confidence in the Americans," he said. "The Bush operation in Iraq betrayed any hopes I had of Iraq transitioning to a stable political elite, and now all those hopes rest with my friends, the Iraqi political elite."
With a report from The Canadian Press