7 May 2003

truth or scare
From the Nation:

My fellow Americans, there may be threatening amounts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There may not be. We're not sure. And if they are there, it may take weeks after military victory before we can launch a major effort to find and secure them. By then, they could be gone--that is, if they were there in the first place--perhaps in the hands of people who mean us harm. And after we defeat Iraq's brutal regime, the people of Iraq will welcome US troops as liberators. Then again, within days, many of them could be shouting, "Yankee, go home" and calling for a new government dominated by fundamentalist religious leaders. We don't know. Nor do we really know the extent of any operational links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda--if such things exist. Still, I believe the potential risk posed by Saddam Hussein is so great that we cannot let what we do not know to stand in the way of decisive action. We cannot afford to guess wrong. With that in mind, I have ordered...

With Baghdad conquered, the fog of prewar has started to clear. And it now seems that had the Bush Administration been honest with the American public (and the world), its on-to-war pronouncements would have resembled the imaginary sequence above. Instead, Bush and his national security team--including ex officio members deployed in think tank bunkers and op-ed command centers--declared, without question or pause, that Iraq had dangerous levels of weapons of mass destruction and that it was "urgent," as Bush said, to find and destroy these weapons. They also talked about birthing a democratic government in Iraq without acknowledging obstacles and potential traps. But, it turns out, the Administration was not on the level. Moreover, it was woefully unready to deal with the consequences of military victory.

Though Bush and other war cheerleaders had spoken of liberating Iraq, their main argument concerned the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The reason he was such an immediate danger, they said, was that he had these awful weapons and could, as Bush breathlessly noted, slip them to anti-American terrorists at any moment. Yet once US troops were in Iraq, the Bush Administration and the Pentagon adopted a rather lackadaisical approach to locating and securing such weapons. Weeks after the April 9 fall of Baghdad, the Pentagon was still in the process of assembling a survey team of 1,000 experts to search for chemical and biological weapons and signs of a nuclear weapons program. Why had this force not been ready to roll at the war's start?

Now if we reworked this just a tad...

So I say to the Australian people that maintaining the US alliance at all costs is the supreme purpose of my government's foreign policy. There may or may not be weapons of mass destruction buried under a signpost on the road to Baghdad but if I call George and ask for evidence he'll get all bitter and twisted and we mustn't have that. Hell, for all the intelligence reports I read they may not even have signposts on the road to Baghdad but we have to keep our great and powerful friend happy.

At least John Howard is intellectually (if not factually) consistent.

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