know George W. Bush is in big trouble when even
George Will, who backed the Iraq war and has toed the
neocon line pretty faithfully, sharply questions the rationale
for war. The complete
absence of any evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime
possessed weapons of mass destruction presents the
administration with a major problem:
doctrine of preemption the core of the president's foreign
policy – is in jeopardy. To govern is to choose, almost always
on the basis of very imperfect information. But preemption
presupposes the ability to know things – to know about threats
with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less
momentous than those for waging war."
Will tries, mightily, to solve the curious case of the missing
WMD without drawing the obvious conclusion that the President
and/or his neocon advisors lied us into war. That is just
not "plausible," avers Will. So what is plausible?
Not much, as it turns out. Will cites James "World
War IV" Woolsey, ex-CIA chieftain and fanatic warmonger:
Saddam, it seems, "destroyed his WMD on the eve of war." On
account of the forced march to Baghdad, Woolsey suggests Saddam
"may have moved fast to destroy the material that was the
justification for a war he intended to survive, and may have
may indeed have survived – the news is now that he
wants to negotiate the terms of his surrender. Perhaps
then we'll find out soon enough why, if he did have WMD, he
didn't unleash all he had as he faced the Anglo-American onslaught.
After all, the President of the United States solemnly told us:
have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized
Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons the very
weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
what happened? Oh, but never mind that minor detail, because
Woolsey wants to get to the really important stuff. According
to him, Robin Cook's
contention that we would have found the WMD by now is
or biological weapons could have been manufactured with minor
modifications of a fertilizer plant, or in a plant as small
as a microbrewery attached to a restaurant. The 8,500 liters
of anthrax that Hussein once admitted to having would weigh
about 8.5 tons and would fill about half of a tractor-trailer
truck. The 25,000 liters that Colin Powell cited in his U.N.
speech could be concealed in two trucks or in much less
space if the anthrax were powdered."
complete failure to find these famous trucks – a recent "discovery"
of a supposed mobile chemical warfare unit turned out
to be a balloon-maker – is no obstacle to the belief of
the faithful. The total lack of any trace of chemical or biological
weapons in Iraq – to say nothing of the "growing fleet of
manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to
disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas,"
that the President
claimed to have certain knowledge of – doesn't discourage
the WMD cult, which has now taken on aspects of a religious
movement. Remember, we were
told by the President in his State of the Union address
that the Iraqis had produced "as much as 500 tons of sarin,
mustard and VX nerve agent."
where is it?
ye of little faith! Just because we can't see the WMD
doesn't mean they aren't there. They were there, they
could still be there, or, as White
House spokesman Ari Fleischer put it in January:
know for a fact that there are weapons there."
just have to have faith.
this is an exhortation the President's Christian fundamentalist
followers are prepared to accept, but for the less comatose
among us – even including some who agitated for war – questions
are beginning to be raised. The general public, we are assured,
mind being lied to, but the elites are a different matter.
Anger, including among Republicans, is mounting. The League
of Disillusioned Warmongers is a growing faction of the War
Party: first Norah Vincent,
then George Will, and now even kneejerk hawks like Mona Charen
are exhibiting all the symptoms of a crisis of faith:
would have urged a war against Saddam if he had not possessed
weapons of mass destruction. However much we rejoice for the
Iraqi people who've been freed from his freak-show of a government,
we are not in the business of militarily liberating all the
Dean of Watergate fame has recently raised the possibility
that the President could even be impeached for lying
to Congress and the American people, and conservatives are
getting more than a little nervous. Paul Weyrich, of the
Free Congress Foundation, a leading right-wing ideologue,
is clearly worried:
administration should put the truth out there. Otherwise you
never know how a far-out plot by someone who is not taken
seriously will turn into something red-hot and blown way out
of proportion by the media."
short, Weyrich urges the
President and his advisors to come clean. It'll never
happen, of course: lying is more than a habit with these people.
It is a way of life, a modus operandi, and the only
possible way they are going to get what they want. The American
people haven't a clue as to what's going on in Iraq: no one
consulted them about the minimum
stay of five years envisioned by prominent lawmakers in
both parties. As the "postwar" casualty
count surpasses American
losses prior to "victory," and Operation Enduring Freedom
gives way to Operation Endless Hassle, the American people
will discover that the War Party lied about more than just
lied about bringing "democracy" to the region: instead of
'liberating" the Iraqis, the U.S. is refusing to hold elections
and has set up a military government of occupation lorded
over by an American viceroy.
lied about how many
troops it would take to occupy and administer Iraq. They
lied about the costs, and how they would be recouped.
They forged documents,
who raised questions as "pro-Saddam," stifled debate, and
rushed us into war before the majority could realize it was
all a con job, a slick operation fueled by falsehoods and
propelled forward by the sheer momentum of media-driven war
lied about so many things that, as the truth comes out, even
their most faithful supporters are beginning to break ranks.
Some are jumping ship, it seems, before the U.S.S. Bush
43 takes a direct hit: others are waiting to see which
way to jump, depending on the extent of the public outcry.
The President's pollsters find it reassuring to believe the
American people will never wake up, one morning, and wonder
why we're losing about a soldier a day in "liberated" Iraq.
In his column, Will cites Republican pollster Frank Luntz
as saying "Americans are happily focused on Iraqis liberated
rather than WMD not found, so we 'feel good about ourselves,'"
but the acerbic old Tory contemptuously dismisses this as
"New Age therapy to make the public feel mellow," and insists:
WMD are found, or their absence accounted for, there is urgent
explaining to be done."
been left way out there on a limb, and exposed as the party
hacks and hand-raisers they are, some of the most hardcore
supporters of this war – the columnists, publicists, and right-wing
true believers, some of whom actually took U.S. government
propaganda at face value – are angry. Not only at being made
to look like credulous fools, but also on account of the "road
map," which adds to their sense of betrayal.
neocons are not loyal to Bush, or to the Republican party,
for that matter, but only to their program of ushering the
country into the Imperial Era, and ditching our old Republic.
If and when the Iraqi occupation goes unmistakably sour, and
the President still resists the temptation to continue on
to Iran and Syria, they'll dump him so quick it'll make his
the neocons draw up grandiose global architectures in which
American power is the framework of a new world order. For
the non-interventionists, left and right, our task is to repeat,
over and over, two simple words: exit strategy. Faced
with these two alternatives, there is no doubt in my mind
that the American people will have the wisdom to make the
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