From "The Long Shadow of Neoconservatism," a review by James B. Rule of the below two books, Dissent, May 6, 2015.
In classic liberal thinking, democracy is supposed to provide a constant stream of public criticism and evaluation of state action, so that the entire polity learns from past mistakes. Blame is assigned, responsibility weighed, individuals or parties gain and lose advantage; the system rights itself.
Nothing remotely like this has happened with regard to the Iraq war—no national debate on the premises of the war remotely commensurate with the disaster it entailed. The key actors in this sweeping and slowly enfolding tragedy—those who bear the heaviest responsibility for the disaster (both personalities and institutions)—are still holding forth, having learned nothing and (for official purposes) forgotten everything.
If the supposedly inevitable Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, becomes that party’s presidential nominee, you can be sure that the detail of these matters will be buried as deeply as possible under a landslide of platitudes and selective ignorance.
So yes, it could happen again—and probably will, unless the country resists the temptation to regard the Iraq war as a bad dream, to be forgotten with the dawn of a new day.
Too often America proves Gore Vidal right when he wrote, "We are permanently the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing." ("The State of the Union," The Nation, September 13, 2004.)
The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War, by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad; Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Overreach: Delusions of Regime Change in Iraq, by Michael MacDonald; Harvard University Press, 2014.