10/01/06 — Hindsight for sale: Woodwar’s Iraq book arrives during campaign season

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Hindsight for sale: Woodwar’s Iraq book arrives during campaign season

Forget for the moment whether you think former reporter Bob Woodward really has the scoop on the real truth behind the war in Iraq.

You could be excused, however, if you were sort of hoping that a man who has been out of mainstream journalism for so long really isn’t the only one who knows the facts and figures about the war — and that he is not the only one who is asking questions if there are any to be asked.

Set aside also the argument about whether Woodward is the definitive source for who knew what when and who is really responsible for the progress of the war or the need for it in the first place.

Although, again, one could be forgiven for wondering if Woodward really has done the exhaustive and non-partisan research necessary to draw an iron-clad judgment about who should be labeled the villian and who is on the side of the righteous in the war on terror and its battles in Iraq. Especially, you might think, since books are done months if not years in advance, thus precluding the ability to get the latest in such a fluid, ever-changing issue.

And, if you can, save for later the debate over why with only a little more than a month left before the November general election, now seemed to be the perfect time to start yet another battle over who knew what when and who is responsible for what.

Although you could be justified if you are suggesting that book sales and not a burning desire for the truth pushed this release date — or that the proximity of a chance to hurl a brick and watch the glass of a few campaigns shatter was just too irresistable.

There is going to be debate about the war in Iraq as long as there is an ongoing fight there.

There will be some legitimate criticisms and there will be some potshots taken for political gain.

But the bottom line is, that is what happens when you decide to take a stand for what you believe is right. The purpose is noble. The plan is perfect on paper. And then the actually work begins and you find it isn’t as clearcut as you thought and there might be other factors you could not have foreseen.

But the point is, you have taken a step instead of pondering your next move for months or years, missing opportunities to engage simply because there is no way to predict what will happen next. You act because, as most of us realize, there will never be a time when a course of action is crystal clear and completely free of potential for pitfalls and wrong turns.

No one, including Bob Woodward, truly knows what the absolute right answer is in the war against terror or the progress of the war in Iraq, even from the 20/20 view of hindsight.

Only history will be able to tell us whether the work we are doing now will make this world safer for our children, but evidence suggests it already has.

So, we can listen to Bob Woodward like we do all the others who aren’t there, don’t see the bigger picture and who are only giving their view of “the facts.”

It’s a good read, but it’s not gospel. It’s the beginning of a debate and not the end of one.

Now, it is all right to turn the page.

Published in Editorials on October 1, 2006 12:04 AM