Thursday, January 08, 2004

"So What?": A report has been issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace denouncing the WMD threat reports that preceded the Iraqi Invasion. Now, we all know that think tanks have their agendas; fortunately Carnegie's is contained in its name, so there's no illusion as to its vantage point. Nonetheless, the report identifies three main failings of the U.S. and British governments in their analysis and reporting of that analysis:
They presented nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as a single WMD threat, lumping together the high likelihood that Iraq had chemical weapons with the possibility that it had nuclear weapons, a claim for which there was no serious evidence. The administration also insisted without evidence that Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, would give WMD to terrorists.

Finally, officials misused intelligence in many ways. "These include the wholesale dropping of caveats, probabilities and expressions of uncertainty present in intelligence assessments from public statements," it says.
Now, the responses from the Bush defenders have broken down roughly like this: (1) Nobody lied; (2) Everyone [from Bush, Sr.'s admin. going forward] thought Saddam had the WMD goods; (3) the WMD really did exist but it was all expertly hidden and/or moved to Syria; (4) even if the fears were somewhat overstated, the ends justified the means; and (5) hey look, the economy is growing really fast!

I've written before over at Vodkapundit that saying "Bush lied" is just a t-shirt slogan. Lying means you know the facts to be one thing, but you portray them to be something altogether different, with the intent of deceiving others. Anything less than that falls into the categories of hyperoble or simple negligence or carelessness. There's little reason to believe Bush lied given how many people much smarter than he believed the truth of the intel.

What scares me more is that all the intelligence services were so badly off the mark. And I'm not discounting the fact that the intel that we had was spun in such a way so as to maximize its impact on our psyche. What really should annoy people is that the grounds used to invade Iraq actually exist in N. Korea today. But this is nothing new and has already been explored and we all know we can't get Dear Leader without serious catastrophe. Moving on....

What it really comes down to is that we all want our wars to be of the WWII variety - where the threat is not only perceived but actual (meaning we want to be bombed before we bomb back). Of course, this is silly when you get down to it, but we just feel better because our blood will boil and cry for revenge. We also could feel good about WWII because of the level of depravity and destruction that Hitler et al. engaged in (not that we were really concerned about the Jews until Pearl Harbor, mind you).

When we look at Saddam (especially now that he's the "cow in the spider hole") we wonder what all the fuss was about. And what's the deal with those muthaf*ckas over in Iraq killing our troops after we saved them from a ruthless murdering dictator?

The answer? War is messy folks. International relations can't and won't follow a neat one-size-fits-all policy. Our interests are vast and often conflicting. We cannot wait around for other countries, who have their own and also conflicting interests, to get in lock-step with as we march to victory. If W is guilty of anything it's doing a poor job of communicating these matters to the people (but if you're looking to him for good communication, well...). He tried to play righteous idignation, when instead some realpolitik about the need for a stable foothold in the Mideast is vital to our country remaining independent. He shied away from the oil issue because it's his Achilles Heel. Was Saddam a threat? Absolutely. He just wasn't quantifiable. But don't you feel a whole lot better knowing he's gone?

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