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April 5, 2006
Clarifying Arianna

Paul Mirengoff quoted Arianna Huffington from the panel discussion at The Week's awards banquet in DC last night as saying that William F. Buckley had written that the war in Iraq was "the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history." Apparently, Arianna now says that she only said that Buckley called for an acknowledgement of defeat. Arianna feels that Paul implies that she made the quote up. I recall this moment on the panel, because my jaw dropped when she said it, and Paul got the quote right.

Now, when people speak off the cuff on a panel discussion, it's very easy to get quotes and citations mixed up. Arianna is correct when she says that Buckley believes the war in Iraq was a mistake, but as I wrote when Buckley's column appeared, Buckley opposed the war from the beginning anyway. I don't recall Arianna even mentioning William Odom -- but that doesn't mean she didn't have him in mind when she pulled out that quote. I'd say that Paul remembers it correctly but that Arianna made a mistake common in extemporaneous speech, which is to accidentally conflate two different sources into one reference. I don't think Paul or anyone else considered it intentional.

However, the assertion itself is rather laughable, and hardly worth defending. Iraq is worse than Viet Nam, for instance? Worse than our abandonment of the Shah and the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979-1981 that created the Islamofascist movement? Worse than our refusal to engage during the Versailles debates, an isolationist impulse that led directly to the rise of the Nazis and World War II? Worse than the slave trade with Africa in the early decades of the Republic? If Odom said it, and I don't doubt Arianna when she says he did, then Odom is an
historical illiterate and anyone who quotes him is a fool for doing so. Buckley certainly knows that this assertion is hyperbole gone mad.

Arianna would do better to drop the entire matter.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 5, 2006 11:23 PM

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