Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The WMD Argument Revisited and Again Disputed

Cobra II provides new insights into the incompetence of the Bush administration in handling the Iraq war. The New York Times has articles this week based upon the information in the book.

The authors discussed why Saddam left open doubt as to whether he had WMD even after destroying them:

Seeking to deter Iran and even enemies at home, the Iraqi dictator’s goal was to cooperate with the inspectors while preserving some ambiguity about its unconventional weapons — a strategy General Hamdani, the Republican Guard commander, later dubbed in a television interview “deterrence by doubt.”

This explanation for Saddam’s actions has been written about before, but conservative writers ignored it as it didn’t fit into their narrative that Saddam actually had WMD. With virtually nobody buying these claims anymore, they are grasping at straws to excuse Bush’s behavior. Some conservative pundits are trying to twist this passage to justify Bush’s actions:

The Iraqi dictator was so secretive and kept information so compartmentalized that his top military leaders were stunned when he told them three months before the war that he had no weapons of mass destruction, and they were demoralized because they had counted on hidden stocks of poison gas or germ weapons for the nation’s defense.

Their logic is that if even Saddam’s own generals believed that he had WMD, it was understandable for Bush to also believe this and to go to war.

Even if we didn’t have the evidence of the Downing Street Memos and former insiders that both Bush and Cheney planned to go to war even before 9/11, at best this would show that Bush was not a liar but merely incompetent. This ambiguity would justify efforts to get the inspectors back into Iraq. Once they returned, and failed to find evidence of WMD, there was no justification for pulling out the inspectors and going to war.

While the conservatives are wrong in using the question of WMD to justify Bush’s actions they could take some small satisfaction in that the arguments of some on the far left (as opposed to more mainstream Democrats) were also erroneous. I will elaborate on this in the next post.


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