- I’m aware of one person who clearly stated before the war that he believed that Saddam had no WMDs. That was Scott Ritter. This is not the same as saying that we didn’t know for sure, or should have waited some more; or that containment could have worked for a few months or years longer. I mean: an anti-war commentator, writer or speaker who clearly said that Saddam had no WMDs before we invaded and that therefore the war was illegitimate. I remember being told by many who were against getting rid of Saddam that we shouldn’t invade precisely because he had WMDs and our invasion would be the only occasion in which he’d use them. But I don’t recall anyone saying flat out that there were no WMDs in Iraq. But I may have missed someone. I’ll happily post such pre-war statements if you send them to me.
So anyone who opposed the war was supposed to prove a negative, or at least believe he/she could â€“ otherwise, his/her arguments were no more plausible than the shrieks about Saddam’s nukes or his anthrax-laden unmanned aerial vehicles. An honest, reasonable person could have gone either way.
Bullsh*t. There was no shortage of sound arguments, both practical and moral, against this war. Not one of them required the arguer to do the impossible, i.e., demonstrate that there wasn’t a single canister of usable mustard gas anywhere in Iraq. A recap of the antiwar basics regarding WMD:
1. The whole WMD construct was a fraud. It allowed the War Party to conflate WWI-era battlefield weapons (e.g., mustard gas) and high-tech bioweapons of thus-far-limited destruction (e.g., anthrax) with nuclear weapons of transatlantic range. Moreover, the supplementary “dual use” construct meant that, in the absence of actual WMD, the War Party planned to hold up virtually any factory (see Khartoum, 1998) or laboratory as “evidence” of WMD production. It’s not hard to slam dunk when you lower the rim to five feet and expand it to encompass the entire court.
2. After years of inspections, the notion that Iraq possessed or was anywhere near possessing nukes, or the means to hit the U.S. with them, had been rendered unreasonable. (Andrew can post some of these if he’d like.)
3. Insofar as any war opponents made the WMD argument Sullivan describes, they were (a) talking about the use of battlefield weapons on invading U.S. troops (not U.S. territory) and/or (b) pointing out a suspicious recklessness in the warmongers’ approach to Iraq. If the hysterics sincerely believed their own claims about Saddam’s arsenal, then they sure seemed weirdly eager to thrust hundreds of thousands of young Americans (and millions of innocent bystanders) into the open jaws of Hell.
4. A lie is not a mistake, and there can be no doubt that the administration and its amplifiers lied when they repeatedly said they knew Iraq had WMD. If I say, “I believe Salma Hayek is in love with me,” I might be making an honest mistake, albeit one that reveals my ignorance of Ms. Hayek, my excessive self-regard, and ultimately, my lousy grasp of reality. But if I say, “I know Salma Hayek is in love with me,” and buttress that claim with half-truths, forgeries, and the suppression of evidence to the contrary, then I am lying. Period. The hair has been split to an irreducible point.
Those who opposed this war have nothing to answer for, especially not from the likes of Andrew Sullivan. Yet, as Sullivan clamors for the next war, we cannot simply ignore him and hope that others will do the same. All he has gleaned from the Iraq debacle is that Americans will believe anything, which makes him â€“ like the al-Qaeda recruits getting on-the-job training in occupied Iraq â€“ an even bigger menace to peace than he was before. I urge every blogger or columnist reading this to confront Sullivan, blog post to blog post. Let no whopper go unchallenged. Let no self-serving gibberish go unanswered. Please.