Thursday, May 08, 2003

Astoundingly well written and pretty much comprehensive piece on the failure to find Weapons of mass destruction, and what it means, over at Cogent Provocateur.

It's funny, actually, I predicted that there wouldn't be much in the way of WMDs pretty early. Why? Because of this "liberation" trope that got hauled out right before the war started. Had the finding of WMDs been imminent, this wouldn't have been necessary... just cast Saddam as a threat and be done with it. I think the Bush administration realized that they'd get caught out, so pulled out this new rationale before they moved in, just in case. It turned out they had demonstrated some pretty sharp political (if not strategic) foresight.

Two good quotes:

No WMD, no War Powers Resolution. No WMD, no UN Res. 1441. No WMD, no Coalition of the Willing. No WMD, no Azores ultimatum. Everything hinged on Iraq's possession of WMD, and her intransigent refusal to give them up. Scratch the surface of any auxiliary casus belli, and chances are you'll find a circular argument: "Saddam is evil and dangerous. How do we know? Because he has WMDs. How can we be so sure he has WMDs? Because he's evil and dangerous..."

...On yesterday's Nightline, Ted Koppel spotted what may be a more promising explanatory trial balloon -- "all's fair in love and war". By this thesis, we were never serious about WMD. WMD was never anything more than a necessary selling tool for war. War was necessary and salutary as an "object lesson" to lesser beings, reminding them (for their own good) that the US is big and tough. Why now? "9/11 changed everything". Why Iraq? No special reason ... Iraq presented itself as an adversary of convenience. Koppel gathered unabashed supporting testimony from B-list neocon hawks, including former CIA Director Woolsey.
So the whole thing was a lie, it's an admitted lie, and it means that the United States' flimsy justification for invasion under international law has been entirely detonated. (You can't claim "we thought we'd find them", if you actually didn't.) That means that the Bush administration just set the precedent that any old excuse is fine for invasion... and considering that the United States is supposed to be the most non-interventionist power out there, that opens up a whole lotta doors.

(Thanks to Max for the link, and Brian for the original referral.)

Edit: Brian Linse dubbed RonK's piece "one of the best blog posts of all time." I don't know if I agree with that, if only because Digby exists, but it really is spectacular. It should get picked up as an Op-Ed or something.

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