In a tightly-written essay in the Washington Post, historian Alexander Keyssar takes issue with Bush’s dismissing as “revision historians” those who question the administration’s rationale for invading Iraq. That’s what historians do, he argues: revise accounts of the past based on new evidence.

The first histories of war and of major political conflicts are almost always told by the winners; the first sources of information tend to be men (and occasionally women) who hold the reins of power. But those official histories are always flawed and incomplete, precisely because the sources are partial and self-serving. Sooner or later, revisionist challenges emerge, provoking debates that are uncomfortable for political leaders, although salutary for the society those leaders are supposed to serve.