WMD Not Found

Josh in comments before said:

just a little reminder. please tell robert and me exactly how the administration was not lying through their teeth.

also tell me why we have not had any terror alerts since the election.

The link notes that the Iraqi Survey Group has stopped trying to find WMD in Iraq and a bunch of quotations from administration officials such as:

We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud
Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
CNN Late Edition

Given that every intelligence agency in the world believed that Iraq had WMD, that the UN (and the Clinton administration) said he had WMD in 1998, that he USED WMD before and we have no record of destruction of them, it seems odd to accuse the Administration of lying. Perhaps the administration was incorrect in their beliefs, but I think lying requires an intent to decieve that certainly appears to be absent. Moreover, given that we don’t know what happenned to the WMD he already possessed, we don’t actually have evidence that they were wrong. The reasonable presumption was that Saddam had WMD and much of the discussion was whether or not his WMD justified action. We also now know that Saddam was intent on being able to produce WMD (including nukes). We now know that the “sixteen words” from Bush’s State of the Union were true; Saddam was attempting to obtain uranium from Africa. I am not saying that the critics were lying when they claimed these 16 words to be false, but there is at this point a lot of evidence that Joseph Wilson, the primary source of these claims, lied quite a lot.

And the fact that Saddam was attempting to obtain uranium, places the Condi quote in context. Given that Saddam was evading the UN inspection regime, we didn’t want to find out he was successful in obtaining nukes the hard way. This justification for war stands regardless of whether WMD are ever found. I would also remind Josh that WMD was one of many justifications for this war, including shutting down his funding of terroritsts, building liberal institutions in the Middle East, securing the oil supply, and enforcing UN resolutions that were imposed on Saddam as the result of his invasion of Kuwait.

As for the absence of terror alerts since the election, I don’t know. Perhaps the terrorists decided that action immediately after an election is a lot less useful than action before an election. On the other hand, checking Google News…FBI Alerts Boston of Four Terror Suspects (from this morning!).

I would suspect that Josh does not actually believe there are terrorists out to get us and that they aren’t networked with the governments of Syria and Iran and the former government of Iraq. Perhaps he is right, but there is a lot of evidence the other way. I wouldn’t count on it and I’m glad that our President doesn’t either.


2 Responses to WMD Not Found

  1. ooghe says:

    the debate about the rationale ought to be relegated to historians at this point, as the 2004 election has now come and gone- and political will in the coming years will need to be invested elsewhere. As for the lying issue, I would say that the administration has, at the very least, a bad habit of presenting a worst case scenario as received truth. The actual execution of regime change is much harder to forgive, since from almost any angle it seems so lacking in common sense.

    The irony is that Bush’s underlying assumptions are not as radically different from Clinton’s were as people realize. Many of the successes and failures of Clinton have mirrored Bush’s; China, North Korea, and Israel for example- and it’s been significant to note that both Clintons have not had much to say in opposition to the Bush Doctrine.

    here are some broad points:

    -people need to realize that there is going be some kind of international system in the world- one that allows economies to develop, and right now there is no real alternative to the US acting as it’s principle agent that is either possible or desirable.

    -if you believe that the world should avoid situations like either rwanda, kosovo, 9/11, or nuclear terrorism- then international law needs to be rewritten.

    -the UN is not a representative world body the way it is structured now. it reflects the balance of power in 1945 and needs to be reformed, and it is not going to actually govern the US anytime soon. permanent members to an expanded security council should include (in addition to the old members), at least brazil, india, nigeria, and egypt , indonesia, and japan- france’s seat should become the EU seat.

    – the US will have to work with regional groups like NATO, the African Union, Mercosur, and ASEAN when dealing with trouble spots. Again, the UN is never going to enforce security policy- but it is very relevant to any number of global issues.

    -finally- and most importantly- the only way that the US can exercise leadership is if the rest of the world wants it. the US needs to be seen as the good guy, and the last four years have seen a massive failure of public diplomacy that has left the world believing that the US is more of a threat to security than Islamic fundamentalism.

    Maybe the Bush administration believed it was more necessary to horrify US enemies than reassure allies, and maybe it was right. Bush effectively ended the postwar international system set up by FDR, but negating something is always the easiest part. If Iraq is any indication, he seems to believe that when you shatter something then other forces will just conveniently gel them back together again, which is why the situation has deteriorated to the point it is at now. Bush needs to give the world reason to believe in US capabilities again. We’ll see what face Condoleeza Rice puts on things- and I think that her focus should be on things like reopening the American libraries run by the State Department that were closed after the Cold War and reaching out to make the US case. This is how the world came to view the US as a liberalizing force during the Cold War, and it cannot be taken for granted that the world still believes that, and that the US can remain a superpower in those circumstances.

  2. hey alex says:

    i most certainly do believe that there are terrorists out to get us. i also believe that by acting the way we are acting, we are making the situation worse and creating more terrorists out to get us.

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