Sometimes, it hurts to be right. Just ask the many skeptics of the Iraq war. In the face of fears of chemical weapons, and amid patriotic demands for action expressed everywhere from the White House, where President George W. Bush delivered his ultimatums, to suburban carports, where drivers pasted flag decals on their SUVs, some people dared to raise questions. For their courage, many were written off as troublemakers (Army General Eric Shinseki), egotists (French President Jacques Chirac), or myopic bureaucrats (United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix).
It’s surprising that, a decade later, so many of those who accurately predicted the convulsions set off by the war would still be regarded in that same light — as fundamentally off-center in their thinking. One might have assumed that having been proven right would have raised their standing. But not really. While then-backbenchers like Barack Obama, who wasn’t a national figure in 2003, were able to use their opposition to the war to build bases of support, many of those who were in the thick of the national debate are still tarred with disloyalty.